The Royal Health Awareness Society (RHAS) is a non-governmental organization established in 2005 that is affiliated with the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development.
RHAS raises health and safety awareness in Jordan by implementing preventative programs and developing awareness material. RHAS programs encourage Jordanians to change unhealthy habits and lifestyles through capacity building, interactive learning, accreditation and continuous support, in turn addressing national health priorities.
A healthy child pays more attention in class, and healthy families make healthy societies. RHAS’ work is crucial considering that almost 3 out of 4 deaths in Jordan are due to non-communicable diseases, a phenomenon which has been aggravated by urbanization and changing lifestyle and dietary habits. RHAS has developed initiatives and strong partnerships with government and local communities to tackle this trend, which is complementary to Jordan’s high quality health profession and the strong political commitment to health reflected in the National Agenda.
RHAS operates within public and private schools, Ministry of Health comprehensive centers, universities and local communities. RHAS has over 40 partnerships from the private and public sectors and from civil society, both at national and international levels.
RHAS programs focus on three main categories: schools, youth and the community.
Healthy Schools National Accreditation: In this five year program schools that enroll strive to become healthier through training and supervision to implement 11 standards, including safe school environment, healthy school environment, clean school environment, health education, community and staff participation, health services, social and psychological support, physical activity, diet and nutrition, management and leadership, and (where applicable) swimming pools. These standards were developed and defined by RHAS in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, John's Hopkins University, Jordan Health Communication Partnership, Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Health. Upon successfully completing milestones throughout the five years, participating schools are then accredited as a healthy school at varying levels: bronze, silver and gold.
Think First: This is an interactive, computerized curriculum that raises awareness of injury prevention in schools serving grades K-7. Special focus is given to brain and spinal cord injuries, vehicular and pedestrian safety, choking and suffocation hazards, safety around weapons, environment safety and First Aid. These injury prevention measures are integrated into the daily lives of children through technology, arts and teacher parent involvement. Children practice the necessary safety habits to minimize the risk of sustaining a brain or spinal cord injury-over their lifetime while developing problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Shababna (“Our Youth” in Arabic): Shababna is a project that establishes a national network of Jordanian youth volunteers who educate their peers and encourage healthy lifestyles and behaviors in their communities. Youth volunteers receive training on various national health priority topics, leadership skills, communication skills and advocacy. Trained youth volunteers then contribute to the implementation of various health awareness-based projects and initiatives within their university campuses or their local communities based on the results of youth-led community mapping and needs assessment.
Healthy Community Clinic: This is a community-based health project which builds the capacity of the Ministry of Health’s staff at participating comprehensive health centers to improve their preventative services, particularly non-communicable diseases. Medical practitioners working at these health centers are trained and provided with the necessary resources to implement management and prevention-based care to patients through interactive sessions. They equip patients with the knowledge, tools and support to manage their health issues and reduce future complications encouraging physical activity and providing a healthy diet plan. There are currently eleven participating comprehensive health centers across Jordan, and RHAS has plans to expand and replicate this model.
The Healthy Kitchen: Project was launched in 2015 in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and the World Food Program, aims to provide healthy and nutritious food alternatives (meals) to school students, through linking schools to productive kitchens within Community Based Organizations (CBOs), who in turn provide these healthy meals to surrounding schools. The project also aims to raise health and nutrition awareness and healthier eating patterns through providing comprehensive nutrition information and educational resources within schools community.
Through their effective partnership with the MoE, RHAS has successfully institutionalized its King Abdullah II Award for Physical Fitness. Between 2008 and 2014, RHAS has worked with 315 schools, and about 63% of them have acquired accreditations as healthy schools.
As part of the Healthy Schools capacity building and training programs, 1030 health education teachers and principals were trained, affecting more than 144,400 students. The Think First program has reached 107 schools, over 77,000 students, and has trained around 1,000 school teachers and principals.
An impact assessment study showed that between 2011 and 2012, the injury rate was reduced by 24% in participating schools. The Shababna volunteering program has successfully trained over 857 youth to implement health initiatives in their universities and communities.
Through the Healthy Community Clinic program in 11 comprehensive centers, 73 Ministry of Health medical staff have been trained. These staff have reached 4,000 patients with substantial impact in reducing Body Mass Index (BMI), Blood pressure and Blood Glucose Levels.
Healthy Kitchen project has been implemented in 10 schools of Madaba Directorate, reaching approximately 2,400 students. Healthier eating patterns and nutrition awareness sessions were conducted in the participating schools for the students, teachers and parents. Moreover, the CBO received HACCP accreditation, and 20 job opportunities have been created by the project for people from the local community in Madaba, in addition to creating other economic activities that engaged vendors and sellers of the meals production inputs and equipment.