|Education for Health (WHO, 1988, 261 pages)|
|Chapter 5: Health education with groups|
It is the behavior of individual members that helps make a group a success or failure. Let us look at two quite different examples of group behavior and analyse them.
Consider this example
The Unity Health Committee was formed two years ago. The members originally thought that, if they worked together, they could identify and solve some of the major health problems in the community. They had set the following priority goals for the year:
To increase attendance at the preschool clinics.
To doubIe the number of children receiving immunization.
To make sure all mothers have road-to-health charts for their preschool children.
They have still not been able to achieve any of those goals.
During a meeting, the leader of the group says 'At our last meeting, only half the members were present. We cannot expect to achieve anything if our members are not serious about attending our meetings. Today we must decide on a way to improve clinic attendance. We can never hope to increase immunization coverage if mothers do not attend the clinics.
Member A says 'I think we should borrow a loudspeaker van to inform mothers about the clinics.'
Member B answers 'That is a foolish idea. You know we would have to go to the district headquarters to request the van, and transport to the headquarters is very expensive.'
Member A decides to say no more. She feels bad because she was called foolish before everyone in the group. She makes no more suggestions during the rest of the meeting.
The leader asks if anyone has another idea. Member C suggests 'Let us go on house-to-house visits to encourage mothers to attend.'
Member B answers again 'That would take a lot of time, and you know all of us are busy with our own work. I had to leave my business to attend this meeting. Don't waste our time with silly ideas.'
Member C is angry. He says to Member B 'You always criticise other people's ideas. Why don't you suggest something better yourself?' Then the two of them start arguing. The leader, after 15 minutes, tries to calm them down. Member C and some of his friends finally get up and walk out of the meeting.
The behavior of the members in this group is causing the group to fail. Member B talks too much. He always criticises. He does not add useful ideas. He makes other people feel bad. Member A gives up. If she is silent, she cannot contribute to solving the problem. Member C becomes angry too easily. Instead of facing the group's problems, he runs away. Other members do not show any interest; many do not attend. The leader lets members get deep into an argument before taking any action to stop them. Instead of encouraging them to resolve their differences right away, he allows them to fight.
Let us now see how people in the Progress Health Committee behave.
Last year the community faced a big problem when the main water-hole dried up for three months. The health committee is now holding a meeting to find a permanent solution to the water problem. The leader starts the meeting by saying 'I am glad to see that so many of you could come and that everyone is on time. We will be able to get a lot of work done today. I do not see Member D. Does anyone know where he is?'
'His wife is sick, so he took her to the clinic says Member E. Then Member F suggests 'We should go to his house after the meeting and find out how his wife is.' Everyone agrees.
Then the leader reminds the group about their problem. He asks for suggestions for improving the community water supply. Member G suggests 'We could dig a large community well.'
Member H answers 'Thank you for your suggestion. A well could help if we can afford it. What is the opinion of our treasurer?'
The treasurer informs the group 'We are very short of money just now. I wish I knew where to find the money. Maybe Member J has an idea. She recently visited her uncle whose village has just finished building a deep new well.'
Member J replies 'The community development agents in my uncle's village told him about a special programme that gives loans to communities for self-help projects. Maybe we could get a loan too.'
'That's a good idea,' says Member E. 'I will volunteer to visit our own community development agent to see if he knows anything about loans.
What good behavior did you notice in this group? Think first and
then see (a) if you agree with the kinds of helpful behavior listed below; (b)
if you have any additions to the list:
Examples of helpful behavior:
- Making suggestions.
- Encouraging each other to talk.
- Responding politely to the suggestions of others.
- Helping make points clear.
- Giving information.
- Showing concern for each other.
- Volunteering to help with work.
- Attending meetings regularly and on time.
- Thanking each other for suggestions given.
Conflict in groups
Disagreements are natural when people come together in groups. In both the Unity and Progress Health Committees there was some conflict or divergence of views about solutions to their problems. In the Unity Committee some people gave in without discussing their views fully. Some fought. Others ran away. Such behavior is not helpful for solving problems.
In the Progress Committee, members discussed the problem. Everyone contributed to the talk. Members kept calm. They encouraged each other to share opinions. Finally, through discussion, a number of good ideas came up and the problem was solved for the time being.
At the end of this chapter is a section on holding meetings. It contains more about group behavior, including how groups make decisions (page 167). The way a group makes its decisions can either help solve conflicts or make them worse.