|Education for Health (WHO, 1988, 274 p.)|
|Chapter 6: Health education with communities|
So far we have only talked about health staff and groups. There are many other people who work for community improvement and health: agricultural agents, social welfare workers, community development officers, schoolteachers, adult education teachers, and others. Those people should be involved as much as possible in all health programmes, and health workers should in turn be involved in the programmes of the other community workers and their agencies. Another important group to involve are people working for the mass media (radio broadcasters, newspaper reporters, etc.), should such people be available in your community.
Before such involvement can be successful, there must be good communication between all the different agencies. The formation of a community services council is one way of promoting communication and cooperation. This council could meet regularly, maybe once a month or more frequently, should the need arise. Each agency would send some representatives. General community needs could be discussed and the roles and responsibilities of each agency could be planned.
Skills in holding meetings and encouraging mature group behavior will be most important for the success of such a council. Each agency will feel that its job in the community is very important. People in one agency may not trust people in others. There may have been disagreements in the past. Hard work may be needed to build good relationships. The time and effort will be worthwhile, because the members of the community will benefit through better services.
Before setting up a new structurebe it a health committee, an advisory board, a local association, or a council to facilitate intersectoral coordinationinvestigate carefully the structures that already exist in the community and see if they could serve for the purpose you envisage. It is often tempting to create a new group but it may be wiser to extend an organization that has proved its worth.