Educational objectives of health education
In this section you will learn about the objectives of your health education activities. One of the most important objectives is to provide appropriate knowledge.
Knowledge is the collection and storage of information and experience. Good quality health education relies on the provision of correct, credible, simple and understandable facts and information. Providing knowledge is about helping someone who has a problem, in the case of your job a health problem, so you will have to be aware of the possible health problems, their consequences and ways of preventing them.
Box 2.1 TB health education messages
- People with persistent coughing should visit the nearby health centre for sputum tests because a cough lasting two weeks or more is a symptom that could be a sign of TB.
- Those people confirmed as TB patients and put on anti-TB drugs should adhere to their medication to prevent possible drug resistance and to help cure their disease.
Look at the messages about TB in Box 2.1. Which message do you think is the most important?
The truth is that both messages are very important, but they will be useful to people at different stages of their disease. As a Health Extension Practitioner you will have to understand which is appropriate knowledge to pass on to the people in your community and when to deliver the knowledge.
Another important objective of health education is to help people to develop a positive attitude. Attitude has a lot to do with changing people's opinions, feelings and beliefs. Health education aims to encourage an attitude that helps people maintain healthy practices and behaviours. A positive attitude can also help with decision-making so that they are able to choose healthy practices for themselves and their families.
Health education can have a huge impact on people's attitudes towards healthy behaviour and practices, as Case Study 2.1 illustrates.
Case Study 2.1 Genet
When working as a Health Extension Practitioner, Genet found that the community she was working in commonly practised female genital mutilation (FGM). Genet wanted to change the community's attitude towards practising FGM and would regularly carry out health education activities with different individuals and groups within the community. For example, she organised a group meeting for the women living in the community and gave an audiovisual presentation on the health risks associated with FGM. Genet followed this with a discussion where the women could talk about the practice and ask questions about her presentation. She put up posters like the one in Figure 2.4. The belief that FGM is a harmful traditional practice became the most commonly held view amongst community members.
Consider an attitude related to a health issue that you think has recently changed in a community you know about. Think for a moment about the way that health education activities may have influenced that change.
It is worth remembering and jotting down sequences of health education activities that help to bring about attitude change. It is all evidence for you to build on of what works, who listens and how to develop your activities.