The 2023/2024 school health screening tests have begun at the screening center on Pósa Street of the Debrecen Primary Care and Health Development Institute. László Papp, mayor of Debrecen, deputy mayor Diána Széles and Csaba Papp, director of the Debrecen Primary Care and Health Development Institute (Daefi) reported on the program at a press conference on September 19, 2023.
As László Papp said, among others, the school health service in Debrecen has been operating in an exemplary manner since October 2019 under the direction of the Debrecen Primary Care and Health Development Institute. In recent years, the municipality of the city – together with the University of Debrecen – has made serious efforts to ensure that Daefi can carry out its diverse school health screening tests – from cardiovascular tests to dental and hearing tests – in its Pósa utca center under suitable infrastructure conditions. Thus, all the conditions are in place for the health status of primary and secondary school students in Debrecen to be properly controlled.
As the mayor pointed out, in recent years, for example, many heart problems have been identified during these examinations, which, if not recognized, could even be fatal for a child or young person in the case of sports or other active activities. László Papp, on behalf of the city management, thanked the Daefi staff, the health professionals working here, for their activities, with which they do a great service to Debrecen, considering that they perform complex health screenings for more than 12,000 students every year. The mayor also mentioned that this health control will be supplemented by Mozdulj, Debrecen!, launched this school year. school program, which gives elementary and high school students in the city the opportunity to exercise regularly with the help of coordinators, to participate in exercise training sessions, to fall in love with exercise, and thus lead a healthier life.
Vice-mayor Diána Széles pointed out that today’s young people around the world move much less than the members of the generations before them. According to a domestic research – which examined the exercise needs of children from the 5th to the 12th grade – 6 out of 10 boys do not do any sports, and this ratio is only worse for girls. Children and young people must therefore be made to love exercise! Move, Debrecen! movement’s school program supported by the municipality was created in the spirit of this, for which excellent partners were the various school maintainers active in the city. At the same time, the role of parents is also very important in ensuring that their child moves as much as possible.
According to Diána Széles’ suggestion, everyone should reconsider their own lifestyle, and if possible, parents should not take their child to school by car, but rather let the child walk or ride a bicycle. And if possible, parents should pay attention to whether their child is moving or playing sports every day. This can be one of the good directions for achieving the goal of encouraging children to exercise and making them fall in love with exercise. Move, Debrecen! the movement development sessions of the school program are also suitable for improving the children’s possible movement problems, solving their inhibitions about movement in class, or even making them fall in love with movement so that they can even get interested in practicing different sports. Regular exercise also greatly reduces the stress that children experience while studying. And the school program – as it is linked to the institutions – not only provides exercise opportunities for children living in Debrecen, but also, of course, for children living in the vicinity of the city who attend schools in Debrecen. Thus, it can even be considered county-wide.
Csaba Papp, the director of the Debrecen Primary Care and Health Development Institute (Daefi), pointed out that one of the unique features of the school health service in Debrecen is that the results of the health screenings, broken down by educational institution, are compiled within this framework, and programs are developed based on this, such as the Move, Debrecen! school program. As the director said, health is a gift that we are born with, but at the same time, two-thirds of our health depends on the lifestyle we lead and the way we eat. Institutionalized health promotion is necessary because people need to be taught the right way of life. One of the focal points of Daefi’s activities is the operation of the city’s school health system, at the same time, Csaba Papp also mentioned that the Debrecen municipality, in a unique way in our country, undertakes half of the funding, and with the help of Daefi, maintains a breast milk collection center that can provide assistance to 80 parents of premature babies per month. . The school dental system maintained by the city is also considered unique, which treats 42,000 children every year and performs nearly 10,000 dental interventions. The result of this school dental system is, for example, that before the coronavirus epidemic, the index of the proportion of decayed teeth among children was below 1, which rose to 2.5 during the epidemic, but has now decreased to 1.3, and next year expected to be below 1 again. In Debrecen, all school health positions are filled, which is also unique in the country.
According to Csaba Papp, the specialized orthodontic care in Debrecen is unique in the world: the city currently provides free orthodontic treatment to 8,800 children. What is also unique is that children’s health screenings are carried out in Debrecen as part of a field trip-like health day that includes playful experience elements, lectures, and many interesting impulses, and 10th graders can also learn resuscitation methods. With this, they also want to teach the children – and Csaba Papp considers this one of their main missions – not to be afraid of healthcare.
The director also mentioned some examples from the school health screening experiences of the last school years. In the 2022/2023 school year, for example, nearly 13,700 children took part in the screening. In terms of nutritional status, an index above 90 indicates obesity. After the coronavirus epidemic, 16 percent of the children in Debrecen participating in the screening belonged to this category. In the 2022/2023 school year, this rate dropped to 15 percent, which indicates that children have started to move again. After the coronavirus epidemic, 72 percent of children were found to have club feet, spine problems, and posture problems. In the 2022/2023 school year, this proportion dropped to 58 percent due to daily physical education. This is a huge result in one year, so there is a huge opportunity in improving movement and health. That is why Csaba Papp considers it a significant achievement that Move, Debrecen! also the school program of the movement. Speaking about ophthalmic problems, the director said that 32 percent of the children sit at school without seeing well and without correction. Unfortunately, this is a very high rate, and parents have a great responsibility to pay attention to the condition of their child’s vision.
The situation is much better with regard to the detection of hearing impairments, as the most modern hearing testing equipment is used in the school health system in Debrecen. While national data show a hearing loss rate of 8-10 percent in the examined age group, in Debrecen it is 1.8 percent. This is the result of continuous control. In Debrecen – in a unique way in the world – members of the primary and secondary school age group undergo a total of 6 times during their student years an EKG test as part of school health screening. Immediately after the coronavirus epidemic, heart rhythm problems were found in 184 children. This number decreased to 79 in the 2022/2023 school year. All this shows that the epidemic period took a toll on the children mentally. If these problems are not revealed in this way, the risk of, for example, sudden cardiac death would be much greater. As a result of the revealed problems, several children received pacemakers. The director also mentioned that during the 4 years of their screening program so far, a total of 14 children with very serious, even life-threatening, so-called WPW (Wolf-Parkinson-White) syndrome have been identified, who have naturally received appropriate medical care since then. Csaba Papp emphasized that all cases discovered during the school health screening that require further examinations are notified to the affected parents, and the children are also referred to a specialist doctor.
It was also mentioned that two of the six dental treatment units recently acquired by Daefi with the help of the city and the university have been placed in the screening center on Pósa Street, and one is still to be handed over, which will be located in Józsa. With this, 13 of the 28 school dental districts will be renewed, but I would like to continue this program as well.
The director emphasized that it is thanks to the support of the municipality of Debrecen and the help of the University of Debrecen that this school health screening program can function in this form, and in the case of many children, it can even prove to be a lifesaver. However, this also requires the cooperation of the parents, so Csaba Papp asked them to pay extra attention to ensuring that their child can participate in the screening test at the appointed time. They get a treasure – their health – in return!
(Debrecen City Hall)