|Education for Health (WHO, 1988, 274 p.)|
|Chapter 6: Health education with communities|
Campaigns can be planned to promote knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values relating to a particular health issue. They may also be used to accomplish a particular community improvement project.
Public awareness is the first key to a successful health campaign. Therefore a carefully planned public information programme should begin as soon as the community decides on the issue or problem it wants to tackle. People need to know what is going to happen, when it will happen, and why the project is important to them. In the course of the campaign, this information is provided through a series of messages, for which every available channel of communication is used, including personal outreach, town criers, posters, public address systems, announcements at public or group meeting places, and, if possible, radio and newspaper coverage.
A health campaign is organized around one issue or problem. In other words, it has a theme. Examples of themes are 'Clean up the community', 'Immunize your child', 'Good food for healthy bodies', 'Clean water for good health'. These themes will often become the name of the campaign, so should be short, 'catchy', and easy to remember.
The campaign should be concerned with a real problem that has been identified by the community members themselves or is generally recognized. If there is a health committee in the community, it should be active in identifying subjects for campaigns and planning appropriate action.
The duration of the actual campaign activities in the community is often only a week or a month. For this reason, campaigns are often known as 'Health weeks'.
While the campaign itself may last only one week, it must be preceded by much planning. The committee may work for several months or a year in order to plan a successful campaign and the necessary follow-up. Members of the community must be contacted well in advance, if they are expected to participate in projects and donate money and materials. Resources must be located, and educational activities organized.
The use of a variety of health education methods will help reinforce the impact. There may be plays, health talks, displays, demonstrations, community meetings, and group discussions. Programmes may be organized in the schools and with other community groups.
Opportunities are provided for the community to participate in projects such as digging latrine pits or building incinerators.
An activity that lasts for a week creates much excitement and interest. But health problems are not solved if people are active for only one week out of the year. They must practice healthy behavior throughout the year. They must help maintain community wells and latrines in good order every day, not just on one day.
If a health committee exists, its members must watch to see if people continue to practice the health skills taught during the campaign. Home visits, community meetings, posters, group discussions, and school projects throughout the year help people to remember the knowledge and practice the skills they have learnt, and also to maintain the health facilities they have created.
The need for follow-up is one reason why campaigns should be organized by the community itself (through its committees or councils), and not by health workers alone. Follow-up activities are carried out most effectively by the people who live in the community.
For example, a one-week campaign on immunization would be useless without adequate follow-up. Several immunizations require second doses three months after the first. Also, new babies require immunization at different times throughout the year. Planned follow-up activities are therefore essential to make sure that the campaign succeeds in its health objectives.
This child is being immunized as part of a campaign. For the campaign to be successful, planned follow-up is needed.