Goals of health education
For a Health Extension Practitioner the main goal of health education is to enable each individual and family within your community to exercise their right to develop and achieve their physical, mental and social potential.
Through health education you should aim to help prevent illness and disease, maintain and improve the health of your community members, reduce exposure to risk factors and help people adjust so they are more able to live with disabilities.
Look at the paragraph above again and think about health education messages that have been focused on:
- Maintenance and improvement of health
- Reduced exposure to risk
- Adjustment to disability.
It's clear that these aims are all linked. For example, reducing risk can improve health and prevent disease, and adjusting to disability can prevent mental health problems and reduce self-harming behaviours. Your health education messages can be anything from very straightforward to very subtle messages which affect whole lives.
Understanding health education approaches will help you to influence your community and encourage the desired healthy behaviour and practices.
Persuasion is often used by Health Extension Practitioners to influence the behaviour of their community. Imagine you have analysed the latrine usage within your area and found that many people are not using the latrines that have been constructed. You could try to persuade the community to increase latrine usage by explaining the health risks of not using a latrine and stressing the benefits of using one. After using the persuasion approach you should follow up by making frequent visits to the households you surveyed and checking that they are still using the latrines.