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School health for migrant children: a myth or a must?

Authors Tuangratananon T, Julchoo S, Wanwong Y, Sinam P, Suphanchaimat R

Received 28 September 2018

Accepted for publication 29 May 2019

Published 10 July 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 123—132

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/RMHP.S189081

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Kent Rondeau


Titiporn Tuangratananon1,2, Sataporn Julchoo,1 Yaowaluk Wanwong,1 Pigunkaew Sinam,1 Rapeepong Suphanchaimat1,3

1International Health Policy Program, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi 11000, Thailand; 2Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi 11000, Thailand; 3Bureau of Epidemiology, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi 11000, Thailand

Background: School health plays a vital role in lifelong health outcomes. Migrant children are a vulnerable population that seem to have inadequate health promotion interventions, and limited studies have assessed their health status and personal hygiene at schools. This study aimed to evaluate school health promotion and health outcomes of migrant children in Thai public schools (TPSs) and migrant learning centers (MLCs).
Methods: A cross-sectional study was applied. Data were collected from questionnaires focusing on health care access, nutritional status, and personal hygiene of migrant children in two MLCs and four TPSs, along with Thai children in the same TPSs. Descriptive analysis and logistic regression model were used to compare access to health promotion and the health status of migrant children with the Thai counterparts.
Results: Blended school health services were generally found in TPSs, which led to indifferent vaccination rates between Thai and migrant children in TPSs (odds ratio [OR] 0.457 (0.186–1.120)). However, vaccination rates of migrant children in MLCs are noticeably around fourfold lower. Overall, migrant children received fewer dental health services than Thai children, both in TPSs (OR 0.198 (0.076,0.517)) and MLCs (OR 0.156 (0.004,0.055)). Other personal hygiene behaviors and nutritional statuses saw no significant difference between Thai children and migrant children in either TPSs or MLCs. The uninsured status among migrant children posed another challenge to health care access, as 81.7% of the migrant children in MLCs and 56.6% in TPSs were uninsured.
Conclusion: Migrant children in MLCs received a lower rate of essential vaccinations compared to those in TPSs. Dental services appeared to be the most neglected area of care in migrant children. The findings indicate the necessity of supportive policy for MLCs, while regulating quality and standards concurrently. Multisectoral collaboration is critically needed for sustainably improving the quality of life of migrant children.

Keywords: migrant children, migrants learning center, school health promotion, education

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