Healthy Kids Mean Thriving Schools

According to the Human Development Index, Pakistan ranks among the bottom 15 countries in literacy. The literacy rate among women in Pakistan is only 36 percent, with an overall rate of 50 percent. About 25 percent of the children are not enrolled in primary schools, and 50 percent of those enrolled drop out before completing primary school. Many factors contribute to this reality, including the lack of health care. Students without access to health care are much more susceptible to dropping out.  Their lack of education leaves them with little hope for the future, and isolates them from society.

Barakat is not only aware of the importance of health care in reducing dropout rates, but has also taken practical steps to provide health care to its students. It is also necessary because quality education goes hand in hand with the quality of health of the students. To address the health issues, Barakat has started checkup programs in its three schools in Pakistan.

andkhoy school students in clinic 1The program provides regular check-ups for both male and female students and provides patients with medicine if it is needed and available. The most common diseases found in children in this region are the flu, fever and skin irritations caused by poor water quality and sanitation.  While most of these ailments are easily curable with proper medication, distance and cost exclude most families in Barakat’s schools from accessing them.According to Barakat Pakistan Country Director Sumera Sahar, health care facilities are available for those who can afford to pay the doctor’s fees, which range from Rs100-2,000 and beyond.  But these costs are prohibitively expensive in a community whose annual average household income is just Rs10,000 ($115).

Currently, Barakat schools are some of the few in the region that have started providing free check-ups to their students. In the majority of the schools in Attock, such facilities are non-existent. Barakat has even gone one step further by making the check-up facility available to the families of students in addition to students themselves in emergencies. Parents and students are hopeful that this program will lighten the burden of health care costs for them. Barakat staff believe the program, in conjunction with continued community outreach, will improve attendance rates and enable students to learn more effectively in the classroom.