Health education and health promotion builds on a social and cultural understanding of health and illness within your community. The approach to health education used in this study session aims to improve access to health-related information, knowledge and services that will give people more control over their own health and wellbeing.
As a public health Practitioner you will use health education activities to promote healthy behaviour and practices in the community you work in. Each individual and every community needs to think about what will bring them a healthy life. There are different risk factors in each locality that expose people to unhealthy conditions and lead to sickness and disease. Health education activities are expected to reduce these risk factors and maintain the health of your community.
Every stage of life, each and every individual or social group in your community and all occupations are appropriate targets of health education programmes. The following sections cover the main target groups for health education programmes. It is important for you to adapt your health education methods and activities to fit the group or audience you are targeting.
All Health Extension Practitioners are expected to use health education to communicate with individuals within their community. Individuals include all health service users such as women receiving antenatal care, school children, adolescents and young children. You will be able to deliver health education messages at both household and at a community level.
Groups are gatherings of two or more people with a common interest; they are a good target for your health education sessions. To understand the concept of group health education, imagine that there is a gathering of an HIV/AIDS peer educator group at the local secondary school. You may well be invited by the school administrator to deliver health messages on HIV/AIDS to help train groups such as these
“Organising health education groups in your community is important to raise awareness of specific health issues.”
Health education is among the tasks that all Health Extension Practitioners will also be expected to implement at community level. A community can be described as a collection of people who have a feeling of belonging and share a common culture, beliefs, values and norms. In this context a community will also have a common interest regarding the possible health problems within your area.
Your community is a specific group of people, often living in a defined geographical area and arranged in a social structure according to relationships that the community has developed over a period of time. Members of a community gain their personal and social identity through shared culture, beliefs, values and norms. All health education work relies on good relationships with people in your community. Community members will also exhibit some awareness of their identity as a group, their common needs and will have a commitment to meeting these needs.