health education and health promotion

health education and health promotion
health education and healSchool health education can empower children to make decisions favorable to health and to adopt healthy behaviors throughout his life. Knowledge and attitudes related to health not only increase the welfare of the students, but also allow them to help themselves, their friends, their family and the community. Much of what children learn in school about nutrition, hygiene, sanitation and healthy lifestyles becomes aware of his family and his community. Scholars around the world have proven to be good teachers of their elders who have failed to benefit from a basic instruction about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle.

Health education not only promotes health, it has been shown that schooling itself has everywhere a powerful influence on health. Its impact is clearly reflected in the benefits of the maternal and child health. Literate women tend to marry later and more often use family planning methods. One year of schooling is enough for mothers to pay more attention to their own health and that of their children, and attend more promptly seek medical attention if necessary (World Bank, 1993: 43).

In third world countries, usually they are community health workers (ASC) in charge of health education in the community. The ASC -denominados in some agents countries voluntary health, rural health guides (India), health officials (Indonesia) or health workers community (Ethiopia) – are men and women chosen by the community and trained to meet the health problems of its members working closely with health services. Usually have a level of elementary instruction, ie read, write and do simple math calculations (WHO, 1987: 439). The ASC belong to both the community and the health sector, which show the principle of community participation in primary health care.

Usually, the responsibilities of these auxiliaries include teaching issues related to hygiene, nutrition, family planning, child health and immunizations, in addition to the provision of some basic health services and screening and referral to health centers . The agents show more commitment when providing services to the community in which they reside and, moreover, the participation of agents of both sexes is essential in some communities, especially for the success of family planning programs and disease prevention sexually transmitted infections (World Bank, 1993: 148). Effective health education depends on the capabilities of health workers and the methods they use, so that the formation of the ASC should include the basic methods of adult education.

In the past, health education was seen as a means of changing individual behavior related to health, and therefore was confined mainly to impart information to passive recipients, sometimes blaming people for problems caused by their environment or for his behavior. For example, some mothers of children with diarrhea were accused of not boil water to drink, and others with malnourished children were reprimanded for failing to provide a balanced diet. Health education tended to pay little attention to the underlying causes of poor health, such as discrimination against women and girls, inequalities in the distribution and access to resources, unemployment, inadequate housing, poor sanitation, and numerous economic, social and cultural factors that create and perpetuate poverty in poor health. In addition, it has failed to take into account the importance of building and nurturing self-esteem and confidence of people in promotion:

In contrast, health education aims influence on behavior. In this regard, you must take into account the perceptions, beliefs and practices of people, paying particular attention to the role of women in the community. In addition, methods and educational materials must have relative cultural and gender sensitivity, and use a level understandable and appropriate language for the group.

Different societies differ in their traditional practices and beliefs regarding the disease. These practices are sometimes harmless, like putting wet cloths on the body of a child with a fever, while others may be harmful, such as starve a child with measles (see traditional medicine). Health education should support and encourage those beneficial existing practices, and discourage those that are harmful. To be effective, health education should respond to the particular needs of the population to which it is addressed. For example, the content, level and emphasis on education on HIV / AIDS will change according to the group to which the information is intended, are stable couples, teenagers, prostitutes, immigrants, illiterate people, etc.

Health education can also be incorporated into activities not specifically focus on health. Both texts from different disciplines at school and texts adult literacy programs may include health messages in the local community, in addition to inform, stimulate debate and awareness. Also, involve the agent in the production of their own materials reinforces learning while promoting the production of relevant materials and culturally appropriate.

To reach the population, health education uses three basic methods. These can be used individually or in combination to achieve greater effectiveness (Eade and Williams, 1995: 769-70):

a) Work with the population: the advice of health workers in health facilities or during visits, meetings and public discussions, campaigns and lobbying, demonstrations, health education in schools and other institutions, and activities among children. Involve influential citizens or local agencies, as teachers, priests, healers or traditional birth attendants, usually strengthen health education programs. Furthermore, it is important to strengthen existing health education activities, local groups, social organizations and NGOs.

b) The use of auxiliary teaching methods: printed materials, posters, videos, slides and murals are some of the auxiliary methods used for teaching. The popular theater, puppet shows and other forms of drama or role-playing games can be ways besides fun, highly persuasive to disseminate educational messages.

c) The media: radio, television and print media now reach a vast audience in poor countries and have enormous potential to transmit information along with new values ​​and ideas. Campaigns in the mass media have been used for family planning, nutrition campaigns, promotion of breastfeeding, HIV / AIDS, etc. In Pakistan, for example, health authorities incorporated information on immunization programs in a popular television series, with a very positive effect. In Mexico City, organisms related to issues of HIV / AIDS have spread information through cartoon shows high audience (Eade and Williams, 1995: 770). Radio programs that include health messages reach millions of people around the world strengthen the work of health workers and teachers. In turn, it is important that the messages broadcast by the media are supported by them, making them reach the community directly. This is especially important for women, compared to men, have higher levels of illiteracy and less access to mass media.

As for the evaluation of health education activities, one of the most difficult aspects is finding behavioral changes induced by them and to track trends over a period of time. For example, health educators can count how many condoms have been distributed, but can not count how many are being used (Eade and Williams, 1995: 771). Before and after the courses, surveys should be conducted to try to measure the impact of health education interventions and evaluate the effectiveness of methodologies. For this, it is necessary to establish indicators of impact and change together with the public to whom it is addressed the health education program.
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