Historical Background of Health Education and Behavioral Science
The department was established in 1996 E.C with 41 undergraduate Students. Following that the MPH in Health Education and Promotion training Program was started with 5 trainees of all males in 1997 E.C. Currently it is one of the 18 departments and three teams running under the College Of Public Health & Medical Science under Jimma University.
Rationale of the Programs
- It is established for the fact that most health problems of the country are primarily related to individual & group behaviors & life styles. Medical staffs are not in a position to address fully those health problems that mainly requires of continuous promotional health activities. In other words, maintenance of healthful life & prevention of diseases in a society demands for professionals who can apply theories & models of effective communication for behavior change in a desired direction.
- In addition to the existing major health problems, the newly emerged HIV/AIDS could not be tackled in any other way than equipping every citizen with the necessary knowledge of route of transmission & prevention mechanisms & motivating people to enforce those remedies. These actions require a wide range of activities including educational diagnosis, planning, implementation, & monitoring of every steps all of which need to be done by a visionary specialist in the field.
- It is also a well-known fact that Ethiopia is a country known for its “ill-beings”. Among others, Ethiopia has for long been stricken by poverty and a multitude of diseases of which the emerging HIV/AIDS pandemic seems to stand at the fore front of productivity since the last three decades. Hence, there is a felt need of producing man power of higher level professionals who will contribute for poverty alleviation, the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and above all promoting the general well being and health development of our society.
- In the Health Service Development Programs (HSDP) of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Ethiopia in all the phases –from HSDP one to HSDP four- information, communication and education and effective behavior change approaches towards health have been emphasized. On the other hand, it is well observed that there has been a shortage of adequately trained health professional in the field of IEC at both the Federal and Regional levels. In most of the cases, Health Education and Promotion is carried out by member of health personnel who are neither trained in Health Education and Promotion nor committed to full time job of this service. This would hamper the handling and curving of the rising level of health problems that need to be addressed qualitatively to bring about basic behavioral change. In other saying, in a nutshell, health education and promotion programs have been established on the basis of limited research and implemented with little or no proper needs assessment in our country.
- To this effect, many programs seem to be established with poorly conceived, planned, and too frequently with unrealistic objectives, and with no effective mechanism for management, quality control or monitoring. Therefore, there is a need for changing this gloomy picture by producing high caliber researchers and managers to ensure a sound and substantial improvement in the practices of health education and promotion.
- To unfold this problem, the HSDP II and III have specifically stated the starting of the training programme of health education professionals as its target.
- The importance of having high caliber health education and promotion specialists is not only to curve health problems related with lifestyles and environmental modification, but it is important to further strengthen the existing health for better quality of life.
- Above all, Health Education is a profession like any other and it cannot be practiced in another profession. It is true medical staffs have bits here and there of health education but they are not health educators as such. Just as we are not agriculturists by the fact that we know how to plant crops or keep farm animals. Therefore, there is need for a specific person to be trained and charged with the onus of doing Health Education and Promotion.