Photo © UNICEF
This Saturday, the international community will be celebrating World Health Day – focusing on the theme of “health for all”. Universal health coverage is essential when it comes to maintaining happy and productive societies. In fact, health is inextricably linked with quality education, impacting every member – and institution – within a community.
It’s important to recognize the effect that health has on education. A child’s first five years of life are critical in preparing one for a future of success and satisfaction in his or her life; when a child is malnourished, this can hamper brain development, weaken the immune system, and increase the risk for serious health problems later in life.
Poor health can prevent a person from reaching his or her full potential. In low- and middle-income countries, there are an estimated 500 million days off school that occur due to sickness – affecting attendance, growth, concentration, and learning.
The private sector should and must have a interest in ensuring health for all; a community impacted by health issues and a lack of education is detrimental toward a functional economy.
On World Health Day, the business community has the opportunity to create real change in the lives of millions of children and adults who are impacted by poor health infrastructure. The Global Business Coalition for Education is already taking action to strengthen a community’s access to care and education.
GBC-Education member Sumitomo Chemical has implemented award-winning policies that are friendly for young children and families. The policies allow for employees to take their children abroad when working overseas. In addition, Sumitomo has created in-house daycare centers for its workers.
While family-friendly policies are essential toward ensuring the health of employees and their children, other companies are strengthening the link between education and health in marginalized communities. The Oando Foundation – based in Nigeria – has expanded its pre-primary education and care at adopted schools throughout the country.
As the world celebrates World Health Day, it’s vital that the private sector promote family-friendly policies and early childhood development across their companies and their areas of operation. A healthy society is one that can fulfill its educational goals and create more stable and sustainable futures.