Improving Health and Well-being

Education and health go hand in hand.  Education equips people with the skills to practice basic elements of health, sanitation, and child care.

Education, especially girls’ education, saves lives and improves the health of families. Educated women are more likely to:

  • seek pre- and post-natal care
  • follow doctors’ recommendations
  • have births attended by trained personnel
  • have healthier children, who are more likely to go to school themselves
  • have greater decision-making power within the household


Education is one of the most effective preventative weapons against HIV/AIDS and is often referred to as the “social vaccine.”  Young people who have completed primary school are half as likely to contract HIV/AIDS as those with little or no education.

Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

The most effective way to address preventable diseases including small pox, tuberculosis, diarrhea and other water-borne illnesses is through education and behavior change.  Having adequate and appropriate water supply and sanitation facilities in schools is a major factor influencing whether children, and especially adolescent girls, attend school.  Schools provide an excellent place for children to learn about hygiene practices.

Key Facts

  1. In countries where fewer than 50 percent of youth and adults have at least entered secondary school, lower education corresponds to lower life expectancy.
  2. It has been estimated that if all children completed primary education, 700,000 cases of HIV/AIDS in young people could be prevented each year.
  3. Educating women reduces child, infant and maternal mortality, with each additional year of schooling of mothers translating into a 5-10 percent decline in child mortality.
  4. Girls who stay in school longer delay sexual activity and have fewer partners, reducing their risk of infection with HIV/AIDS.
  5. A girl who completes basic education is 3 times less likely to contract HIV.
  6. Women with post-primary education are five times more likely than illiterate women to know the necessary facts about HIV and AIDS.
  7. Women with secondary education are far more likely to be aware of measures to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, which currently infects 370,000 children a year.

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