Status of school health programs in Asia: National policy and implementation

Pediatr Int. 2022 Jan;64(1):e15146. doi: 10.1111/ped.15146.


Background: The WHO's Health Promoting Schools (HPS) framework is based on an understanding of the reciprocal relationship between health and education, and the need to take a holistic approach to health promotion in schools. We aim to clarify the degree to which the HPS framework is reflected in the national policies of eight target countries and the issues surrounding its successful implementation.

Methods: Date were collected through two expert workshops with participants from eight Asian countries: Cambodia, China, Japan, Korea, Lao PDR, Nepal, the Philippines, and Thailand. In the first workshop, data collected on national policy were mapped against the HPS framework. From this, key issues were identified, and follow-up data collection was conducted in each country for a second workshop.

Results: We identified a policy shift toward the HPS framework in six out of the eight countries. Neither Japan nor Korea had changed their national policy frameworks to reflect an HPS approach; however, in the latter, model programs had been introduced at a local level. We identified various barriers to successful implementation, especially in relation to mental health and wellbeing.

Conclusion: Given the recent shift toward the HPS approach in six out of the eight countries in this study, there is a need to conduct research to assess the impact of this framework on the health and wellbeing of students and school staff. At the same time, we call for more dialog in the context of Japan to explore the possible benefits of introducing the HPS framework into schools.

Keywords: Asia; HPS framework; health promotion; school health.

MeSH terms

  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Policy
  • School Health Services*
  • Schools
  • Thailand