07.04.2020 Opinion

Position Communication Central In Public Health: Thinking The New Pathway In This Crisis Of The Virulent COVID-19 Pandemic

By Abdul-Wahid Dawono
Position Communication Central In Public Health: Thinking The New Pathway In This Crisis Of The Virulent COVID-19 Pandemic
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The best leader is the leader with managerial abilities not only leading his/her people but manage and maximized their individual talents for the organization to meet it desired goal. Leader has the courage, decision and wisdom to choose. All these qualities of leader are well grounded on frame work and policies. Helen Keller, that wonderful blind and deaf person, said: “The greatest tragedy to be fall a person is to have sight but luck vision”.

In order words if the leaders personal vision does not conformed to the vision of the organization he is leading it can be described as lack of vision. There is only one question and reason this write up seeks to address which is Why is Health Promotion cadres today?. Communication though a natural phenomenon but is an art one has learn or be trained to do professionally. It was for the purpose of the streamlining and reorienting the our health sector to see Health communication as professional area for professional trained person to lead in the midst of crisis as we have in hands now.

The culture of a place is the behaviours its leaders permit. The cultures of our homes are the behaviours our mums and dads endorsed. Our Health system has varied professional groups and cadres as well as scope of work regulated by the Allied Health Council (Act 857 of 2013). The scope of work of these professional groups or cadres have been standardized and uniquely coded by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Our job descriptions do not crisscross they are intelligently crafted for each cadre hence, our current behaviour of leader to choose and do what suite them at time will not lead us anywhere but to a dangerous land.

We must avail our to the Alma Alta declaration of 1978, similarly the Ottawa Charter of 1986 as well as the Shanghai declarations were all declared to resound the need and pivotal role of health promotion and communication in the health system. The empowerment and maximum utilization of these cadres of will inure to the benefits of public health sector. There cannot be effective and strong public health without health communication.

This notwithstanding, a nurse who acquired a practical experience in theater cannot and will be allowed to perform surgery on behalf of the doctor, a doctor does not conduct normal delivery on behalf of the Midwife. Interestingly and usually, our Health managers think a very good surveillance/Disease control officer; Nutrition or Health Information officer can do the Health Promotion Officer's Risk/crisis communication or social mobilization on behalf the Health Promotion Officer. Even at this time of crisis and some District don't see the relevant of including the Health Promotion Officer in their Rapid Respond Teams. This pathway of thinking wrong and cannot continue especially at this crisis time.

We must accept and do what is necessary now. We must also accept that each cadre of staff was licensed to do a specific job. There is no way a Public Health Nurse can replace the Health Promotion Officer in the Rapid Respond Teams in this our fragile health system. We must again accept to use the right people for the right jobs at the right time particularly now that we a crisis in our hands.

We cannot be oblivious of the fact that, we need our few but crucial doctors and nurses to be in our consulting rooms and hospital wards to manage the conditions that will come to them, we need our Disease Control Officers to lead our surveillance and conduct contact tracing at this time, laboratory technicians/scientist to take specimen samples and give us accurate results, we need our HIOs to help manage and give us accurate data.

Equally important that, we need our Health Promotion cadres to do the strategic risk and crisis communication and social mobilization of smaller groups, clusters and communities, educate and inform our highly illiterate population as well as address and dispel rumors when they arise. We cannot continue doing what we like all the time but what is necessary sometimes especially now and forever. We will better accepting the relevance of these health communication cadres now than later.

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