This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Rana Hatem Moshref. The writer is a 5th year medical student at King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia. Mrs Rana Hatem Moshref is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA).
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do”.– Goeth
So what is health education? Health education is a social science that draws from the biological, environmental, psychological, physical and medical sciences to promote health and prevent disease, disability and premature death through education-driven voluntary positive behavior change activities.
Do we lack it? Over 4.000.000 people worldwide lack access to quality health services due to huge shortage, imbalanced skill mix, and uneven geographical distribution of health workers. To solve the problem, WHO estimates that an additional 4.3 million competent health workers are needed worldwide to produce efficient multi-disciplinary educational programs.
Why is important? Well, it is important because it builds knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes about health, thus motivates people to improve and maintain their health, prevent disease, and reduce risky behaviors.
To provide an effective and high quality health education, it must follow the National Health Education Standards, and these characteristics might be beneficial. As the CDC states, the cornerstone of health education is obviously education, but it must be tailored to each one’s needs, interests, concerns that is free of culturally biased information. If high quality education was delivered to people, it should promote understanding of key health concepts and practice skills, and thus make people initiative in their health by changing behavior, and this is by far the hardest step.
A healthcare professional might provide the highest quality of health education, and still a person might fail in reinforcing health-enhancing attitudes and beliefs because this person wants to hear more facts to correct his misperceptions, wants to see is it worth the change in his life, and especially needs a community to support him and be by his side.
To add, social media can serve as a platform for people to share their life changing behaviors to influence more people, and also it can be a tool for physicians to reach out to the largest number of audience. In the other hand, people may not resist the temptations that are found in social media; like, illegal drugs and unprotected sex.
Also, in order to prevent remissions: a health care professional must discuss the importance of a skill, relevance, then present steps to develop it, afterwards model it, and lastly provide feedback and reinforcement by group discussions, problem solving and role playing to encourage creative expression, share personal thoughts and feelings.
Research studies provide evidence that promoting and establishing healthy behaviors for younger people are more effective, and often easier, than efforts to change unhealthy behaviors already established in adult populations. Multiple websites might come as handy as: The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child, CDC and WHO, but the main role of health education is school. School health education programs can reduce health risk behaviors such as tobacco use, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, drug and alcohol use, as well as actions that increase stress, and risk of injury, and violence. The Joint Committee on National Health Education Standards recommends that students in Pre-K to grade 2 receive a minimum of 40 hours and students in grades 3 to 12 receive 80 hours of instruction in health education per academic year.
In the end, health education is important to live life fully.
About the author
Rana Hatem Moshref is a 5th year medical student in King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia. She is a health advocate and cares about women& children health. She is a researcher and an author. She works hard to apply new ideas that change her society into a better one. She is keen to read new technologies and advances in the field of medicine and surgery to be a good physician in the future and to serve patients the highest quality of care. She also wants to overcome poverty and spread education. Her hobbies are writing, reading, travelling, exploring cultures and an adventure seeker.