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close this bookEducation for Health (WHO, 1988, 274 p.)
close this folderChapter 3: Planning for health education in primary health care
View the document(introduction...)
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

Encouraging action and follow-through

If you have been following the steps described so far, you should have a strong foundation for your health education work. You know the problems, the priorities, the objectives, the resources. Now, all of this must be put together into a specific plan of action that will show what will be done, by whom, and when. In other words you need to prepare a timetable.

Preparing a timetable

Suppose your community feels that its most important health problem is the lack of a convenient drinking-water supply. The timetable on page 73 is an example of how to set out the timing of tasks and responsibilities. One thing to remember when setting target dates for various tasks is to be realistic. It takes time for people to get organized and it takes time to find resources. People will be disappointed if they set a schedule that is too short for the actual completion of the assigned tasks. A timetable is also useful in checking whether the programme is progressing as scheduled.

A copy of the timetable can be put up in the town hall or in another place where people will see it.

The timetable reproduced opposite was set up for a community programme, to improve the water supply. You can adapt the timetable and activities to your own community protects.

A timetable may even be drawn up for an individual; this would be less complicated than one for a community. An example is the case of a mother whose child is underweight. Together with the mother, you could work out a timetable showing the foods that might be prepared for the child each day. This might look like a one-week menu. On the same timetable you would also note follow-up clinic appointments.

If the mother could not read, you would not be able to write out a timetable for her, but you would discuss the schedule to help her remember. Also she might have a child or relative who is able to read. A timetable could then be written that someone could read to her.

Assigning tasks

When a programme involves more than one person, it is important to make sure as many people participate as possible.

In the timetable there is a column headed 'people responsible'. We used general terms like 'leaders', 'volunteers', and 'local people'. In a real timetable you would list the names of the people who have agreed to take responsibility for one task or another.

For example, with the community water supply project: Who will be on the fund-raising committee? Who will get the cement? Who will find the shovels? Who will be the volunteer workers? Who will be in charge of the volunteers?

Follow-through action

This involves the steps listed below:

- Set a specific date on which to start your main action.

Sample timetable for the provision of a community water supply


Completed by

People responsible

1 Community leaders discuss the problem of waterborne diseases

1st week

community health workers

2. Leaders trained on cause and prevention

3rd week

community health workers

3. Public information activities begin, using local media and home visits

4th week

leaders, community health workers, schoolteachers

4. All sick people report for treatment

5th week

leaders, community health workers, local people

5. People boil and filter their water

6th week

leaders (one for each town/village/section)

6. Funds raised for well construction

12th week

fund-raising committee, leaders

7. Voluntary labour recruited

12th week


8. Well sites selected

12th week

leaders and local people

9. Materials obtained

15th week

materials committee

10. Construction begins

15th week

volunteer labourers, community health workers

11 Maintenance committee selected for each well

15th week


12. Maintenance committee members trained in maintenance of wells

16th week

health worker

13. Wells completed

20th week

volunteer labourers

14. People use water only from wells; maintain wells hygienically

20th week onwards

leaders and local people

- Be sure each person knows his or her duties: Can each person tell you from memory what he or she must do and when he or she will do it?

- Keep in contact with people; provide encouragement; answer questions; help solve problems.

- Hold regular meetings to review progress: at these meetings each responsible person can report on what he or she has done; the group can then compare each report with the timetable and see if the work is progressing according to schedule.

- If there is some delay in the schedule the group should look into the problem immediately: Can it be corrected at once? What are the needs? More materials? More volunteers? More time? More funds?

Remember that it is better to correct problems early, before they spoil the programme.