Health Education an overview
Health is one of the cardinal objectives of education. Without health, life cannot offer vitality which accompanies well-being. One method of achieving this objective and developing one's full health potential is to assist the individual to acquire knowledge on health matters and develop a life-style that is beneficial to health. This process is termed Health Education.
Meaning of Health Education.
Health Education is an integration between the practice of preventive and social medicine and the educational process. In other words, it is the application of educational strategies in getting people to adopt measures that promote their health and prevent disease and disability. Education is the appropriate route through which people learn new things. Health Education is an integral part of school curriculum as well as an inevitable component of the activities of health workers. For example, the public health nurse engages in Health Education as part of her duties in mother and child health; the hospital nurse uses Health Education in educating food-handlers in the principles of food hygiene. These examples show that Health Education can be applied in any situation where the behavior of an individual can affect his or her health.
Definition of Health Education.
Some experts have attempted to define Health Education. One definition describes Health Education as follows:
* The sum total of the experiences which contribute to the development of desirable habits, attitudes and knowledge related to individual, family and community health.
One of the widely accepted definitions which seems to summaries what the process is about is that provided by Davies as follows:
* Health Education is the process of persuading people to adopt behaviors which are beneficial to their health and to reject those which are harmful to them.
This process can only succeed where the individual being persuaded has the right type of attitude and the environment permits the adoption of the desired behavior.
Scientific Base Of Health Education.
Health Education is based on the following:
1. Scientific principles or concepts
3. Behavior Change
These three can be likened to a tripod providing a firm base or support for Health Education activities.
1. Scientific Principles. As an academic discipline or subject, Health Education draws its body of knowledge from Human. Anatomy, Physiology, Medical sciences, Biological sciences, Pure sciences, Psychological sciences and Social sciences.
These subjects provide the scientific facts to Health Education. The discipline or subject is sometimes referred to as Health Science. However, the inclusion of the educational process aimed at influencing behavior changes it into Health Education. The scientific knowledge is useful to the pupil when it is transformed into behavior.
2. Facilities. Facilities are necessary to ensure that Health Education takes place. One expert suggested that health education can be said to have occurred only when health information or information on health matters has been transformed into health action.
3. Behavior Change. Behavior is is the most influential factor in determining the health in pupils. Health Education attempts to influence pupils' behavior by dealing with their knowledge, attitude and practice, and by applying strategies that motivate them to adopt particular ideas or behaviors. We know that learning or the adoption of a particular behavior is easier if facilities for learning that behavior are readily available. Following from this premise, Health Education, as has been stated earlier, provides health knowledge and learning experiences to aid behavior. Attitude is also influenced by learning experiences and by imitating their teachers.
Qualities of a Health Educator.
In view of the fact that many subjects or disciplines contribute to the content of Health Education, and in view of the fact that Health Education has similar aims as some other disciplines, all kinds of specialists claim to be specialists or experts in Health Education. Although it is a good thing for Health Education that many people can be engaged in disseminating health information, health educators possess certain qualities. These qualities are:
* Special Skill, based partly on training and partly on experience, in identifying the difficulties which prevent individuals taking some health action or adopting some healthy habit.
* Special Skill in using techniques for disseminating or spreading information or communication.
* Basic Knowledge about ways to promote health.
* A particular capacity to draw up programs for Health Education.
* Some capacity to evaluate the work which has been done.
Health educators are trained and experienced professional workers who combine skills in organization with background of health knowledge, and in some cases research skills. Some of them have provided leadership for the interest in the profession.
Health Education is the application of educational strategies to get people to adopt measures which promote health. Two formal definitions were presented. One capitalized on the content or experiences provided. The other capitalized on the process of Health Education. Three scientific basis of Health Education activities were described.
1. Scientific principles.
2. Facilities and
3. Behavior change.