The Fit for School approach has been developed in the Philippines by international experts in close collaboration with national experts and authorities.
The core of the approach is school children brushing their teeth once-daily at school, which has proven to be highly effective in reducing the incidence of caries and other oral diseases. Also, by washing hands and taking pills against worms, it has proven very valuable in reducing gastrointestinal diseases, at minimal cost.
The Fit for School method has been accepted internationally and is promoted by the World Health Organization as a highly cost-effective method to promote children’s oral and gastrointestinal health.
The practice of the “Fit for School System of Oral Hygiene”, with which very positive results have been obtained in various Asian countries, consists of:
- Proper hand washing, every day, with soap stored in a nylon stocking or similar porous material. Children are taught to wash in a “surgical” manner, hands are dried “in the air” by shaking hands, not with a towel (which can become a source of bacteria).
- The children are given each their own toothbrush, which is kept in school.
- The tooth paste is produced in-country under contract with a manufacturer, ensuring an adequate amount of free fluoride, and packed in large dispensers similar to hand soap dispensers, which produce 0.3 ml per push.
- Children collect their toothbrush every day, after which the toothpaste is distributed by an older child (not the teacher) who supplies the required amount from the dispenser. The children brush for two minutes.
- After brushing the children do not rinse their mouth to ensure a more lasting effect of the toothpaste, especially the fluoride. However, water is needed to wash the brush.
- Parents are involved by informing them on the system and its benefits, in particular on the importance of washing hands and tooth brushing. Parents are encouraged to ensure and provide the means for children to also wash their hands and brush at home.
- Teaching staff and parents are made aware the Fit for School method not only prevents caries but also averts other oral and intestinal diseases, and infections. This, in turn, avoids pain and consequent problems with eating, malnutrition and school attendance as well as decreases the vulnerability to other diseases.
- The hand washing and teeth brushing is combined with the twice-a-year administering of de-worming tablets, and the proper informing of parents on this practice and its importance.
- State health agencies cover the investment and operating costs of the system. The latter consist of providing the fluoride tooth paste and, twice a year, new tooth brushes. These costs are included in the annual school budget. It is important for the system to be financed and managed permanently by the State, to minimize the risk it is halted for lack of funding.
For more information visit the Fit for School website.