Three-year-old Sharon Adelaja was looking hale and hearty by the time her mom dropped her at school on Monday morning. In fact, she finished the plate of rice and beans that was given to her for breakfast.
However, trouble started when she started vomiting some hours into her lessons. It looked like a little thing, till she collapsed. Her teacher, who knew nothing about first aid treatment, tried to resuscitate her to no avail. Everybody gathered around her till the principal’s attention was drawn to the emergency.
They eventually took her to a hospital in the area. On getting to the clinic in Ogba, they had to wait another 30 minutes before they were seen by a paediatrician (child care specialist).
The specialist said child had suffered a seizure, which had affected some nerves in her brain.
The physician lamented that the damage done to some parts of Sharon’s brain could have been prevented if she had received first aid by a skilled health professional, preferably a nurse or a doctor, in the first 15 minutes.
It goes without saying that much drama ensued between the school’s authorities and the Adelajas after the doctor’s verdict.
The toddler has since recovered from the incident, but she still has challenges pronouncing some words and she has been placed on daily medication.
Sharon’s case is a cold reminder for parents and school authorities on the need for a functional clinic on the school premises to ensure that small medical problems do not become big ones.
Experts say as teachers are important to school, so is the presence of trained health care personnel.
According to Consultant Paediatrician, Dr. Dayo Kujore, emergencies will always happen in a school environment, as kids are prone to accidents, falls, food poisoning, malaria, allergic reactions and other ailments which will require a doctor’s attention within the shortest time possible.
Kujore says, “The way a child will react to infection, allergy, food poisoning or any other sickness is different from that of adults because their immunity is not as developed yet. What this means is that they suffer the effects of any illness faster than adults.
“For this singular reason, one should have a doctor or trained nurse close to where you have many kids. A crèche, day care or full-fledged school should have a functional school clinic with drugs and the necessary infrastructure. Its surroundings should be up to standard to also prevent infections from spreading.”
A professor of paediatrics at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Temiye Edamisan, says a major reason why infections such as diarrhoea, measles and other communicable diseases spread among pupils is due to the lack of guidance and information from health care personnel who should be working in the school.
Edamisan notes that if a school has a functional clinic with a dispensary and at least two health care personnel, they would be in a better position to quickly spot infections, isolate affected children from others so as to prevent an outbreak; and also take proper steps to manage the child.
“If they have trained health care personnel, he/she would be able to watch out for children that are sick, isolate them from other kids, just in case it is contagious. They are also able to advise the parents on what is best.
“A child with fever or cold should naturally be treated at home, but parents still force their sick children to go to school, putting other kids at risk of possible infections. A trained personnel at the school clinic will be able to not just give first aid to the sick child but also advise the parents on what to do and do follow up,” he notes
Apart from treating sick children, Kujore explains that health care personnel also advise school authorities on some basic health and hygiene initiatives that would improve the overall wellbeing of the pupils.
“It is health care personnel working in the clinic that will advise the school on some health programmes such as immunisations. They will educate the kids on basic hygiene practices. They must be taught from when they are young.
“They will be able to organise regular medical check-up and screening within the school as a preventive measure, because most parents do not do medical check-up for their kids, they only take them to the hospital when they are sick.
“They are also the people that are professionally trained to counsel children on some sensitive reproductive issues,” he adds.
Schools have resumed this year, but as you would ensure that your child has the necessary tools to read and learn, a responsible parent should also be keen on the standards of facilities and quality of personnel manning their ward’s school clinic – if they have one at all.
Emergencies will occur; however, since you would most likely not be there when it happens in your child’s school, it is wise to ensure that when it does, your child is getting the appropriate help.