Dear Editor – In Honiara last week, when speaking during an inception workshop to launch the FAO-funded TCP Project, the PS of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), Mr Jimi Saelea, said the DCCG was committed to address issues such as poverty, hunger and quality health when looking at agriculture-related issues in the country.
What particularly caught my eye when reading in the press more of what Mr Saelea said about the Project was a statement which read, and I quote.
“It is expected the results of this project will be integrated into programmes that address nutrition issues at schools through linkages with the “Health Schools Programme” which the MHMS supported by WHO and UNICEF are implementing.”
I am not familiar with arrangements currently taking place in the Solomon Islands to provide meals to school children, but do know of the initiative that was taken in 2016 by the ROC – Taiwan Technical MIssion to look at improving nutrition for students at a couple of schools in Honiara.
Health and nutrition interventions have been recognised in addressing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of universal basic education and if ever there was a time for the DCCG to improve its leadership, governance, and resource management, it is now.
Only by putting in place measures that raise the levels of efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of public services, will governments be able to pursue policies that adequately protect children.
School health and nutrition programmes, particularly when embedded within broader child development strategies, are in integral part of the long term development of a child. As part of a continuum of development support, inclusive of maternal and child health as well as early child hood development, school health and nutrition programmes are a critical step to ensuring a child is able to reach their full potential.
School health and nutrition initiatives, such as school feeding; clearly contribute to the child rights framework as articulated in the Convention of the Rights of a Child inclusive of the right to food, the right to health and the right to education.
School feeding programmes also illustrate the role education and schools have in the long term development of the country. This is most obvious through the education and health improvements of children, which lead to a greater earning potential later in life.
I will be keen to learn more of what Mr Saelea predicted the project he talked about will bring about nutritional benefits to school children in the Solomons by way of the ‘Health Schools Programme.’