So many people especially in the health service do ask a lot of questions as to what Health Promotion is all about. During my field attachment in the western region, a Community Health Nurse approached and asked me, "what do you guys do part from educating people"? I explained why we are trained and what exactly we do yet she wasn't convinced and made it blank to me that she doesn't see anything usefully different about our work because it already part of their job description.
One question that has really moved me to have this article published is; why should health promoters be trained when other health professionals can do their job? This question arises from the fact that, there are several common misconceptions about the difference between Health education and Health promotion. This article is seeking to clear the illusions about the roles Health Promoters play in the health service. In health promotion, we use health education as a strategy to effectively dispatch our duties. Let us consider the differences between the two.
Health education is any combination of learning experiences designed to help individuals and communities improve their health, by increasing their knowledge or influencing their attitudes (WHO). From the above definition, health education deals with giving health information to people to influence their attitudes hoping that they will change as a result of the knowledge or information they have had.
On the other hand, Health promotion is defined as the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health (WHO). It goes beyond the focus on attitudinal change to a wide range of social and environmental interventions in order to make sure the individuals within the communities or organizations stay healthy.
Our main focus as health promoters is to positively influence the health behavior of individuals and communities as well as the living and working conditions that influences their health status. In health promotion we don't just give the health information, we work very hard to see the change in behaviour that leads to Ill health. As part of our roles:
We develop the human capacity with skills and the right knowledge they will require to bring about this positive change. There is no denying in the fact that it takes more than just learning experience to transfer health knowledge into practice. It is in this vein that health promoters go beyond just giving the education to making sure the individuals or communities have the necessary skills, knowledge and the right resources to achieve the intended change.
In community organizations and government agencies health promoters helps to identify their needs, draw upon their problem-solving abilities and mobilize their resources to develop, promote, implement and evaluate strategies to improve their own health status. This also involve a lot of inter sectoral collaborations to make sure the communities get the necessary resources to stay healthy. In the health care setting, we focus on the quality of care given to patients, clients, therapeutic regimens as well as environmental conditions that ensures safety for both the client and the service provider.
In companies, Health Promoters coordinate employee counseling as well as education services, employee health risk appraisals, and health screenings. We design, promote, lead and evaluate programs that helps companies to meet occupational health and safety regulations and identify health resources for employees.
Like any other public health staff, we focus on prevention than curative. We work to create an environment in which individuals feel empowered to make healthy choices in order to avoid the risk factors that cause diseases. We collaborate with policy makers to adopt Healthy Public Policies to enhance the quality of life.
There are wide range of factors that influences health. Some of these include income, education, physical environment, social support, working conditions, culture, personal health practices, biological and availability of health services. There is no underestimating of the fact that most people with high socioeconomic status are healthier than those with less socioeconomic status. Again, lack of basic social amenities in most rural communities has prove to cause a lot of health problems among such communities. These and many more reasons are why Health Promotion has come. We will help to identify their problem, prioritize and mobilise every available resources to solve them.
I strongly believe that, the way forward to achieving a healthy nation is by focusing on the promotion of individual's health.
HEALTHY INDIVIDUALS MAKE A HEALTHY NATION. Thank you.
Health Promotion student
College of health - Kintampo