Essentials of Health Education
If we understand that the aim of Health Education is to ensure health related behaviour it should not be difficult to appreciate the following essential points which are relevant and applicable to health education in all possible situations.
- Health education may be required for almost every one at some time or the other.
- Health education is not a one time affair. It is a continuing education.
- Health education can be organized as a self learning process.
- Health education can be a process of learning from others.
- Any one who knows what is good for preservation of health can impart health education.
- Health education consists of proper communication of ideas.
- All the principles and theories of education and learning are fully applicable in health education.
- Since health education has to do with health, correct knowledge about various aspects of health and disease is highly essential for communicating or disseminating ideas of the purpose of producing necessary attitude and behaviour.
- It must be borne in mind that human behaviour is governed by various influences and therefore, health education must take full cognizance of all the influencing factors in any given situation. A good health educator has, therefore, to combine in himself knowledge and skills of behavioural sciences with sufficient rational understanding of the health problems and their solutions from a scientific and logical stand point.
Principles, In view of what has been understood so far about health education we can evolve a few working principles.
1. Health education is primarily education and its purpose is to ensure a desired health related behaviour. Therefore, before involving any individual, group or the community in health education with a particular purpose or for a programme the need should be ascertained and if there is no need the education will be wasted. It is in trying to ascertain the need, creating the need and awareness and creating the interest, etc., that the principle and concepts of behavioural sciences for learning and education are applied. All health education should be need-based. If the problem is severe or serious from the health persons point of view but is not felt as much by the individual or the group then a proper diagnosis should be made about the different influences.
2. Health education should not become an artificial situation or formal teaching-learning. There are many points to be observed to make health education acceptable and meaningfully utilized. One has to get into the culture of the community and introduce novel ideas with a natural case and caution. Dogmatic statements particularly contrary to existing belief, culture, practices will not be liked. It is, therefore, better to start from where people are and slowly build up the talking points to avoid any clash of ideas and to allow for peoples understanding, appreciation and internalization of fresh ideas that the health educator wants to seed in the community.