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close this bookEducation for Health (WHO, 1988, 274 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
close this folderAcknowledgements
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View the documentA message from the Director-General of the World Health Organization'
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe concept of primary health care
close this folderChapter 1: Health behavior and health education
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View the documentHealth, illness, and behavior
View the documentUnderstanding behavior
View the documentChanges in behavior
View the documentHelping people to lead healthier lives
View the documentThe role of health education
View the documentWho is a health educator?
close this folderChapter 2: People working with people
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View the documentEstablishing good relationships
View the documentCommunicating clearly
View the documentEncouraging participation
View the documentAvoiding prejudice and bias
close this folderChapter 3: Planning for health education in primary health care
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View the documentCollecting information
View the documentUnderstanding problems
View the documentDeciding on priorities, objectives, and action
View the documentIdentifying and obtaining resources
View the documentEncouraging action and follow-through
View the documentSelecting appropriate methods
View the documentEvaluating results
View the documentReviewing the process of planning
close this folderChapter 4: Health education with individuals
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View the documentThe purpose of counselling
View the documentRules for counselling
View the documentDifferent types of counselling
View the documentFacilitating decisions and follow-through
View the documentA sample counselling session
View the documentMore practice in counselling
close this folderChapter 5: Health education with groups
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View the documentWhat is a group?
View the documentFormal groups and informal gatherings
View the documentBehavior in formal groups
View the documentThe value of group education
View the documentEducation with informal gatherings
View the documentEducation with formal groups
View the documentDiscussion groups
View the documentSelf-help groups
View the documentThe school classroom
View the documentHealth education at the work-site
View the documentDemonstrations
View the documentCase studies
View the documentRole-playing
View the documentA group training session
View the documentThe health team
View the documentMeetings
close this folderChapter 6: Health education with communities
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View the documentWhat is a community?
View the documentWhen is community health education needed?
View the documentGetting opinion leaders involved
View the documentThe role of local organizations
View the documentThe community health committee
View the documentAdvisory and planning boards
View the documentIntersectoral coordination groups
View the documentOrganizing a health campaign
View the documentSpecial community events
View the documentMobilizing community resources for a project
View the documentDeveloping a partnership with people
View the documentThe role of the community health worker
close this folderChapter 7: Communicating the health message: methods and media
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View the documentCommunicating the health message
View the documentMethods and media
View the documentSummary
View the documentReading List

Avoiding prejudice and bias

All people have prejudices. This problem was discussed briefly in Chapter 1. Prejudice means judging a person in advance simply because they are a member of a certain group. Prejudices are strong feelings either in favour of or against a person because of their age-group, tribe, religion, level of education, or place of birth. To succeed with health education, you must be aware of your own prejudices and attitudes. It may be difficult, but you should not let them influence you in your work. You should not favour one group above another. Above all, do not let your prejudices bring pain or damage to the communities you are trying to serve. Here is an example of what can happen if we let prejudices get in the way of our work.

Mrs Selma has been a health worker in the district for many years. One day she learns that there is a new community development worker in the district. The previous community development worker was a good friend to Mrs Selma. She was sorry to see her leave. The new community worker is very young. He has just finished training. Mrs Selma thinks to herself 'How can this young boy help our district? He is younger than my own son. I doubt if he will be very useful.'

Mrs Selma goes to the preschool clinic every day to talk with the mothers. On one particular day they were complaining that they needed skills so that they could earn more money to feed their children. Mrs Selma's first thought was of the community development workers. Her old friend always used to help over matters like this. But now she fears that the new community development worker will be too young and inexperienced to be of much help. She does not ask him to help.

Mrs Selma has a prejudice against the new community development worker. Because of her prejudice, she is probably hurting the mothers she wants to help. The community development worker is a valuable resource, but now the mothers will not be able to benefit from his help.

Here is another example:

Mr Tess is a health worker in a district where there are many villages. He is supposed to visit each village once a fortnight. He has many friends in Bola Village. He visits Bola once or twice a week. Because he visits Bola Village so often, he does not have time to visit some of the other villages. Mr Tess has a prejudice in favour of Bola Village. This prejudice causes him to neglect the needs of the other villages.

The third example shows that we should never let our biases bring gain to us, while bringing cost or pain to the community.

Mr Sam works in a local dispensary. He knows all the drugs very well. He is grateful to his uncle who helped him to go to school to learn his job. The uncle still gives him money sometimes. The uncle has a small drug store in the town. If patients come to the dispensary and the drugs they need are in short supply, Mr Sam will sometimes tell them to go to town to buy the drug in his uncle's store rather than try to get the drug for them. This will cost the patients more money.

Although Mr Sam has good reason to like his uncle, this is not a reason for allowing his bias to hurt the patients who come to him for help.

We must be careful about our prejudices and biases. They may affect the trust and relationship we have with the community. They may make our work in health education much more difficult. If we want everyone to participate in solving community health problems, we cannot let our prejudices and biases dominate our reason.

Through health education we should learn about our own behavior too. We should try to improve ourselves so that we will be better able to serve the people and communities that need us.

Think about Mrs Selma, Mr Tess, and Mr Sam. What are the reasons for their prejudices and biases? Do you think that they can change their behavior? It may be difficult. What would you recommend that each of them do so that their prejudices or biases will not harm the community? Is there someone else who could help?

What are your own prejudicesabout other community health or social workers, about certain villa"" or neighborhoods, about certain community leaders, about certain groups of people (young people, elders, people of the opposite sex, people from other areas, people of different religions)? Do you feel biased in favour of some people?

What can you do to make sure that your own prejudices or bias" do not harm the people you are supposed to help?