New entrants at five Waitemata schools will undergo a comprehensive health screen by public health nurses in a pilot of  a new early intervention programme.

Awhi Tamariki is an early intervention health screening programme by Waitemata District Health Board aimed at detecting illnesses such as Group A Streptococcal throat infections, ear infections and dental issues when children start primary school.

It builds on the previously established rheumatic fever screening programme and is aimed to complement the current B4 School Checks that focus on meeting unidentified health need, behavioural and developmental progress.

Waitemata District Health Board unit manager for Child Health, Catherine Wightman, said Awhi Tamariki gave nurses the opportunity to take an holistic approach to a child’s health.

The programme enables public health nurses to assess new entrant children for issues with ears, skin, oral health and respiratory systems. It also includes education to children, teachers and whānau helping them identify health concerns and equipping them with skills to prevent illness.

Wightman said it enabled public health nurses to get a better picture of the situation in order to come up with a thorough plan to tackling some commonly seen health issues for the most vulnerable school children.

“Through Awhi Tamariki, we’re able to put parents and caregivers at ease knowing their child is in good health and physically ready to hit the ground running at school.”

The five Waitemata schools piloting Awhi Tamariki include Henderson South School, Pomaria Primary School, Ranui Primary School and Birdwood School in west Auckland as well as Onepoto Primary School in Northcote.

A public health nurse will spend time in these schools providing health assessments for five-year-olds as they begin class. This nurse will also be available on-site at set times to see older pupils for health related issues accompanied by a parent or caregiver.



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