§ Mr. Cartwright
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what evidence he has received about the increase of head lice among schoolchildren; and what advice his Department has issued to district health authorities on this matter;
(2) what evidence he has received about the increase of head lice among schoolchildren; and, what advice his Department has issued to local education authorities on this matter.
§ Mr. Freeman
Information about the incidence of head lice infestation is not available in the form requested. We have the following information on infestations identified by school nurses:
Health Surveillance by Nurses: Maintained Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Special Schools. 1984 1985 1986 1987–88 Number of Infestations1 (England) Number of pupils examined (thousands) 9,401.9 7,288.2 6,089.6 4,546.3 Number of pupils found to be infested (thousands) 132.1 105.5 94.6 91.4 Infested pupils as a percentage of the maintained school population 1.74 1.42 1.29 1.27 1 Infestations include head lice, vermin, scabies, ringworm, impetigo and verrucae Responsibility for the control of head lice infestation amongst school children lies with the individual health authorities through co-operation between the school health services and local education authorities. It is for them to determine the policy for dealing with this problem in the light of local circumstances. Many have stopped routine head inspections and are now pursuing approaches which, for example, combine selective inspections with far more emphasis on health education programmes and advice to parents and children on managing the problem. The Department issued advice on the control of communicable diseases including Pediculosis (head lice) in 1977. This guidance document is currently being revised. The Health Education Authority has also issued guidance.