Parents Urged to Take Children for Check-Ups


Parents and guardians are being reminded to take their children for a medical check-up, to ensure that they are physically and mentally fit for the start of the new school year on September 10. This will also ensure that there are no medical conditions to prevent them from attending school. Speaking with JIS News, Programme Development Officer in the Family Health Unit of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Yvonne Munroe, said that the pre-school year check-up is recommended by both the Ministries of Health and Education and Youth. Parents, she said, were being encouraged through a number of means.
“Even now in some of the entertainment centres and even the cinemas, we have an advertisement which will come on to advise parents to ensure that their child’s immunization is up-to-date,” she pointed out.
In addition to health centres that usually facilitate students who need school medicals, regional health authorities also co-ordinate activities to ensure that as many children benefit.
“We have what we call the back-to-school drive. Some parishes will have a health fair or some activity put on to advise the community what to do,” Dr. Munroe noted.
Concurring with the position of both Ministries is Paediatric Gastroenterologist, Dr. Kirk Thame, who told JIS News that regular check-ups would assist in preventing children from missing school as the medical practitioner could pick up common childhood conditions that can impede growth . “The precise check-ups are going to depend on the age of the child, but it is recommended that every child has a physical examination before the school year starts,” he advised.
“A physical exam [entails] checks to the heart, lungs and blood to make sure everything is fine and make sure there is no problem such as anaemia and also that there are no medical problems. It is also good to know and also good to address them before the school term, so the child doesn’t miss any classes,” Dr. Thame added.
He also commented on the common practice of some parents to give laxatives or ‘wash outs’ to their children before school, stating that it was not a necessary measure.
“Many of us remember growing up, that it was a routine for many people to give the child a ‘wash out’ before the school term starts, and I think some of the thinking is that we eat and [the food] gets backed up and stuck in the intestines over the period of time. This of course, is not true in any way,” he said.
De-worming, which is another way some parents usually prepare their children for back-to-school, is not universal, and is only necessary under certain conditions.
“In terms of worms, it is still, in a little way, controversial,” Dr. Thame noted, while reasoning: “Is there anything to say that children should be de-wormed once a year? No. Can you have problems from worms? Yes.”
“If you have enough of a worm burden in terms of the number, you can actually end up with blockage of the intestines with anaemia and (not being able to grow properly),” he explained.
However, he pointed out that, “if the child is one who plays a lot in dirt, which is where eggs for worms are found, then it is reasonable to give them de-worming. If the child passes the worm, then definitely you would want to give the child treatment as well.” He added that if the child eats chalk and dirt, then it is reasonable to de-worm those children.According to Dr. Thame, many people believe that, “if the child grinds the teeth, they have worms, or if they do not sleep well and are tossing and turning, then they have worms, but none of this has been proven.”
“However, if a child passes a worm, then definitely he or she is infested, and if their bottom itches, then that can be a sign of certain types of worms and chances are if you have one worm, you may have more than one type,” he added.
Dr. Thame said that medications for de-worming can be bought over the counter. However, he suggested that parents check with their doctor to ensure that they administer the drugs correctly.
Of importance during this time is ensuring that the child’s immunization record is up-to-date, just before the start of school.

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