In an attempt to spread awareness about health and hygiene among schoolchildren in government schools, the Gujarat health department has introduced the concept of bal (child) doctors. According to officials of the health department, there will be one bal doctor for around 30 students and the student’s task will be to monitor the health of children and spread awareness.
The initiative is currently being tested in various government schools in Aravalli district and the health department has selected more than 50 students so far from various government schools in the district. “The idea is to use the children to create pressure on their peers. They are not becoming doctors. They will be keeping a tab and talking to the students assigned to them. Some of their duties include telling children, who are under the anaemia programme, to take supplements after meals, reminding children to wash hands before and after meals, administering first aid and giving ORS if anyone has loose motions or vomiting,” said Dr Amarnath Verma, Chief District Health Officer, Aravalli district.
“We ask children to volunteer and then the teachers decide, based on their leadership skills, if they can become a bal doctor… Often a teacher is not able to monitor all the children in class. So, we are trying to ensure that there is proper monitoring… Children are loving the idea and are willing to help,” added Verma.
“We are giving them white coats and small stethoscopes so they feel important… bal doctors are not going to treat the students. They are there to keep a check and report. Trained doctors will be there to handle the children when needed,” said Health Commissioner Dr Jayanti Ravi. “We will replicate the concept all over Gujarat soon.”