Background of the Study
It is universally recognized that health of school children deserves special attention. In order to derive the maximum benefit from educational programme, the child must be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy since anything that makes them deviate from any of these is a health problem. In this present study, health problem was taker to mean a state of physical, social and mental or emotional disorder, which could manifest in disequilibrium, unsoundness, and malfunctioning of the human organs.
Health as a concept has been defined by different people. The World Health Organisation WHO (1948), has defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmity” (p.258). This concept of health sees health as multidimensional rather than just absence of physical sufferings or pains. With the recent development in health this definition has been criticized.
According to Achalu and Achalu (1999), World Health Organisation’s definition has been critized for regarding health as a “state” that implies a static rather than dynamic or variable concept that changes from time to time. Also, the term “complete” implies that one is either healthy or not. There is nothing like complete or perfect health. The fact is that health status varies in a continuum from low to high level of well-being. Dubos and Pines (1965), viewed good health as a process of continuous adaptation to the many microbes, irritants, pressures, and problems which daily challenge humankind. The joint committee on Health of United States of America (1969), declared that health is the most important thing in life, but where there is a deviation it becomes a problem. According to Prothero (1994) health problem is a state of disequilibrum in which disease flourishes and health is impaired. He further stated that humankind and environment are closely linked in a complex relationship which frequently presents conditions of equilibrium between disease and health impairment. This condition is not unlikely to be found among adults, infant and pre-school children in Vandeikya Local Government Area of Benue State where the present study was conducted.
Akhter (1994), opined that health problem is a state of imbalance in the body which may results in disease. This definition implies that health problem puts the body in a state of imbalance thereby making it possible for disease to flourish. Golladay (1980) stated that health problem is a state of unsoundness a source of perplexity physically or mentally which makes one difficult to settle. He stressed that health
problem can be viewed in two ways, namely in terms of conditions, which predispose one to disease (e.g. poor nutrition and bad water supply) and in terms of disease conditions (e.g. malaria and cholera) Meads (1994), asserted that health problems as seen from human perspective and as commonly understood represent something emotionally or physically distressing for which relief is sought. She further stated that health problem could be categorized into physical, mental, or emotional and social problems. She gave examples of each category that is physical problem as skin diseases, Ulcer, rashes diarrhoea, mental health problems as psychoses, neurosis, emotional health problems as psychoses, neurosis, emotional health problems as nervous stress, alcoholism and psychotic disorder and social health problems as maladaption and maladjustment. These health problems are so distressing that the person affected usually seek relief from various views of health problems above.
In the study of the health problems of pre-school children, Spock (1976) stated that pre-school in educational term is generally taken as the period in a child’s life when he or she is considered too young to attend formal school and the period covers the chronological age of three and five years; white (1982), referred to pre-school as education given by trained personnel in an educational institution to children aged two to five years prior to their entering primary school. Pre-school in the present study therefore refers to ages between two to five years. Butcher (1979), warned against the possibility of spreading disease when student congregate can also apply when children gather. Kaine (1984), Norley and Jellief (1985), cantioned that age under five is the age while children are more vulnerable to diseases and malnutrition because at this age children have not built their own natural immunity against diseases and acquired immunity from mother might have vanished. Even though diseases are in existence the pre-school child has to go to school in order to learn. If the pre-school child must learn as well as survive to adulthood in the face of so much threat to life something definite must be done to remedy the situation and save life.
Todel (1976), observed that a child’s first venture into the larger world whether in pre-school, Kindergarten or first grade brings him or her to a closer contact with more people and with hazards to health yet, it is true that recovery or many cases, the ability of people to obtain preventive care to forestall illness depends on whether existing health care system is operating effectively and equitably. While at school, children are faced with certain problems which may be different from that of home which the children are used to and in school which is a new environment to them, since the pre-school children are faced with many health problems, it is logical to expect that the nursery schools are equipped to take care of such health problem. There is also the need for members of staff of such schools to be trained. Oyemade (1974), held that a teacher in a nursery school should not be a glorified baby sitter but a real professional in child care capable of training other staff under her Besides, Wallance (1983) opined that children come from different backgrounds with different health problems and needs as they mix, stay and play together for many hours. It is necessary to determine the final ways of protecting them.
Jenne and Green (1976) suggested that the measures to be taken to safeguard the health of pre-school child should include immunization, isolation, disinfection, personal hygiene and complete eradiation of communicable diseases. Prescot (1987) lent support to this by suggesting daily inspection of each child to be sure that he or she is well. He added that provision should be made to care for the child who may suddenly become ill or sustain injury while at school.
The office of Economic Opportunities (1987) recommended that when a child enters pre-school, he or she should be examined by a physician and both the doctor’s report and a report of health history of the child should be on file as needed. The office further stressed the need for records height and weight to show the pattern of growth for each child and to serve as a base against which to view his or her development. These measures are expected to be applicable to nursery school children in Vandeikya where the present study was carried out. From practical observation, it would seem that the health services in nursery schools in vandeikya are very poor, so became necessary to find out the health problems that exist among pre-school children in vandeikya and the health care provisions made to alleviate such health problems.
According to Philip (1981), health care provisions include all the residential and non residential medical and social welfare services provided regarding someone’s health. Okafor (1982), viewed health care provisions as all services rendered to help someone with health problem in order to return or maintain normal health in order to help someone return to normal health, safety measures proper nutrition, exercise, rest, sleep and medical care must be provided (Gelser and Gage 1994) Akheter (1994), also suggested that to safeguard health medical and dental care, safety, proper nutrition, exercise, rest and sleep, keeping health records, cleanliness and emergency care need to be adopted. Health care provisions in the present study therefore refers to all measures adopted to safeguard and restore health.
Statement of the Problem
It is well known fact that children at school are exposed to variety of hazards like physical injury, infection and emotional problems and that pre-school age is more vulnerable to diseases than any other age. Vandeikya pre-school children are not in anyway different from the exposure to diseases in their environment. From the available health records in nursery schools in vandeikya they are exposed to diseases like infectious diseases, malnutrition, lack of basic sanitation, diarrhoea, measles cholera, anaemia, probably resulting in increased morbidity and mortality of pre-school children in Vandeikya.
Todel and Hefferman (1970), posited that such health problems make it necessary for nursery schools to be prepared at all times to help an individual child with any emergency involving physical, social, mental or emotional health problems (e.g. fall, vomiting, convulsion and fever) pre-school age is a period during which the child undergoes rapid physical and mental development and a healthy environment is required to provide the child with best opportunity of making appropriate adjustment that is required during this critical period. Butcher (1970) and Newell (1982) observed that whenever student congregate be it in the nursery or higher institution, there is the possibility of spreading diseases and people could be strucked down by illness. It follows that effective health care services should be provided for their prevention. Since pre-school children in Vandeikya do congregate and can be struck by illness in the school, there is the need for adequate health care provisions in the schools for health problems of children in Vandeikya. This study, therefore is an attempt to find out if health care services are provided for in these schools in Vandeikya.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study was to identify health problems and health care provisions for pre-school children in Vandeikya Local Government Area of Benue State. Specifically the study sought to: