Primary Healthcare should be strongly connected with initial education

Doctor 2019 surgery

(Natanael Melchor, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. María Cedeño & Ms. Julia E. Acosta, a second and first-year medical students respectively at the Iberoamerican University (UNIBE) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

“Wisdom…. comes not from age, but from education and learning.” – Anton Chekhov

When we establish a new paradigm in the society, there is a certain resistance against it. For that reason, we should seek where this paradigm may be eventually approved and implemented. The Primary Healthcare (PHC) model, however, is not a recent lineament; it was proposed in the declaration of Alma-Ata in 1978 and to this day the health sector continues to embrace its application. As the Declaration of Astana in 2018 by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (1), it serves as the most recent guide in the process of PHC implementation. We should consider that the PHC is based on prevention, integration of the community and the adequate use of technology with a multisectorial scope.

The best way to follow the PHC model is raising awareness in schools, companies, and public and private health care centers. It is feasible to teach early in life the importance of prevention and health promotion in an attractive, playful manner (2). Hence, children can be aware of the importance of proper nutrition, good hygiene, regular physical activity, and annual medical visits as standard principles in PHC. Through this way, we can have better results in the process of adopting the PHC model for the long-term. By these essential lifestyle behaviors, community members can adopt these actions and make it part of their daily life. A clear example of this approach is the teaching of appropriate pediatric dental care; children are able to assimilate the importance of this and keep it as a habit.

Medical students can play an important role in the development of PHC because it is our responsibility as future health professionals to educate the population about health promotion and disease prevention strategies. In the case of pediatric care education, our objective would be to create and implement dynamic activities (e.g. outdoor activities, team building games, crafts, table games, theatre plays) and the use of audiovisual materials, to motivate preschool-age children to take care of themselves and those around them. In the Dominican Republic already exists a program called “EDUSANU” (3),  which is to teach in primary schools about health and nutrition; it includes teaching to read the nutritional facts of the products they consume, evaluate the menu and the products offered in schools to be healthy, with the aim of reducing the incidence of malnutrition, obesity and diabetes.

With the help of the Ministry of Health, together with the Ministry of Education and health policies in different institutions, technological advancement and use of dynamic teaching methods can successfully raise awareness about the value of PHC for optimal community health. The population can become more conscious about health and wellbeing. In this way we must take the first steps to empower people at an early age to better understand the importance of disease prevention and health promotion strategies.

References

  1. World Health Organization, United Nations Children´s Fund. Declaration of Astana: Global Conference on Primary Health Care [Internet]. Kazakhistan: World Health Organization; 2018 [cited 2019 Feb 19]. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/primary-health/declaration/gcphc-declaration.pdf
  2. Lee RE, Soltero EG, Ledoux TA, Sahnoune I, Saavadra F, Mama SK, et al. Sustainability via active garden education: translating policy to practice in early care and education. J Sch Health. 2019.
  3. General information [Internet]. EDUSANU; 2017 [cited 2019 Feb 22]. Available from: http://edusanu.com.do/?page_id=1753

About the authors

María Cedeño is a second-year medical student at the Iberoamerican University (UNIBE) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She serves as an active member of the Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH) of ODEM-Dominican Republic. She also serves as coordinator of the UNIBE Neurology and Neurosurgery Interest Group (NEUROX), and as an active member of the UNIBE Hematology and Oncology Interest Group (GHEMOU).

Julia E. Acosta is a first-year medical student at the Iberoamerican University (UNIBE) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She serves as an active member of the Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH) of ODEM-Dominican Republic. She also is a founding member of the UNIBE Dermatology Interest Group (DERMING) and is an active member of the UNIBE Neurology and Neurosurgery Interest Group (NEUROX).

 

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