|Guide to Health and Hygiene in Agricultural Work (ILO, 1979, 328 p.)|
|6. Organisation of occupational health services and medical inspection of labour in agriculture|
|6.4. Problems of education and training in occupational health and hygiene in agriculture|
As has been seen, in most cases the whole family takes part in agricultural work in varying degrees, or at least lives in the working environment. It is therefore necessary to educate both children and adults, including elderly persons whose useful experience has sometimes been nullified by technical advances in agriculture (by the introduction of new poisons, for example) or by developments in sanitation. To this end, all practicable methods should be employed. Publications may include posters, pamphlets, leaflets and press articles. Since many persons will be illiterate, the spoken word must not be neglected: lectures and broadcasts will be useful.
Furthermore, good use may be made of audio-visual means such as lantern slides, films, television (when it exists) and visits to model villages and model farms.
As regards the question of where health education should be given, the school clearly seems to be the best place for reaching most of the children. However, since education in a rural environment is hampered by a lack of schools, transport difficulties, bad weather, the daily round of work on the farm, and the seasonal employment of children in the fields, the school is not enough and children should also take advantage of courses for older people.
For adults, including the elderly, meetings could be organised in the village, either in administrative or cultural centres or in the premises of agricultural associations. If as much advantage as possible is taken of the various means available, the lessons in health and hygiene will be all the more effective.
The teachers of health education will, in the first place, be health officials, nurses, scientists and engineers, social assistants, pharmaceutical chemists, veterinary surgeons, doctors and perhaps health administrators; but those who have some influence by reason of their function should not be overlooked-members of the teaching profession, whether general or agricultural, technicians, agricultural consultants or administrators and, sometimes perhaps, persons in holy orders.
Specialised services such as medical services, agricultural health services and agricultural medical institutes may be expected to organise health education campaigns. Notwithstanding these campaigns, the day-to-day work of the different authorities will be the most important.
Health education programmes must be both specific and comprehensive. First, they must be specific enough to provide adequate background knowledge for specific remedial solutions to be recommended, and yet general enough so that existing hazards and risks will be recognised and appropriate solutions sought. Topics such as housing, water, waste disposal, nutrition, epidemiological risks, poisoning and accidents should be included.
In conclusion it must be stressed that the multiplicity of problems facing the agricultural sector should be no reason for neglecting education in health and hygiene. It is quite certain that some rural housing problems, for example, will not be solved without adequate economic resources. However, in many cases, simple and inexpensive methods will be sufficient to bring about considerable improvements in both living and working conditions.