Access to health care for SA learners

11 October 2012

South Africa’s new Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP), launched by President Jacob Zuma in the Tshwane district in Gauteng province on Thursday, will ensure that learners have access to primary health care services.

The state programme, which was launched at Chokoe Primary School and ChipaTabane Secondary School in Cullinan east of Pretoria, means that barriers to effective learning will be a thing of the past.

“Although the ISHP initially targets the most disadvantaged schools, the plan is that it eventually reaches all learners,” the Presidency said in a statement.

The ISHP was launched in Tshwane district, which is one of 11 pilot districts that have been identified in terms of National Health Insurance (NHI).

The NHI aims to attain universal coverage of health services in an affordable and equitable manner to ensure quality health care for all in South Africa.

Removing barriers to optimal health

Many children face barriers to optimal health and development as a result of the HIV and Aids epidemic, violence and injuries and non-communicable diseases.

According to the Presidency, the strengthening of school health services through the ISHP is a key component of the primary health care restructuring process in the Health Department and the Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) Programme within the Basic Education Department.

The Social Development Department will be responsible for assisting learners to access services, particularly where financial barriers impede accessing services. This includes providing transport to health facilities where necessary.

The ISHP will offer services including:

  • eyesight, hearing and oral hygiene;
  • immunisation (for foundation and intermediate phases);
  • deworming (for foundation and intermediate phases);
  • treatment of minor conditions, especially skin conditions (all phases);
  • counselling on sexual and reproductive health issues and offer of services via mobile health units (all senior and FET learners, and intermediate learners where required); and


  • prevention of drug and alcohol use and abuse.


The ISHP further aims to individually assess every learner once during each of the four educational phases. Additional individual assessments will be offered to all learners who are repeating grades, at the request of the learner or an educator or parent.

The Presidency also explained that assessment during the foundation phase will focus primarily on identifying health barriers to learning, as well as identifying children who have or are at risk of long-term health, psychological or other problems.