Historical Background of Health Education and Behavioral Science | Jimma University College of Public Health and Medical Science
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.

The Department of Health Education & Behavioral Sciences endeavors its level best to be a center of health education and promotion academic excellence by integrating behavioral, social, psychological and anthropological theories and principles in to the fields of public and medical sciences through training, research and service. The Department trains high caliber professional in undergraduate (BSc) and post-graduate (MPH in Health Education & Promotion) levels through the Jimma University’s cherished and innovative Community - Based (CBTP), Team Training Program (TTP), Developmental Team Training Program (DTT) and Student Research Program (SRP). In addition, it undertakes partnerships and networking to strengthen the capacity of the department and the stakeholders including the community organizations. Therefore, the department is trying every opportunity and its capacity and strength to address the societal needs of health and quality of life through holistic and innovative approaches of health education and health promotion principles and tools.

The Department of Health Education & Behavioral Sciences envisions being the pioneer and leading department both in Ethiopia and other African countries to train and produce high caliber and skillful health education and promotion experts and specialists through multidisciplinary training and practical approaches.

The following are the central values of the Health Education & Behavioral Sciences Department

  1. Educational Relevance: Ensuring pertinence of the educational curricula to societal needs in innovative culturally acceptable way.
  2. High Quality Training: Training Health Education & Promotion Professionals at each levels with adequate knowledge, attitude, and intention of professional practice and skills which is up to the international standards of the profession and beyond by hybrid important fields of behavior change and health disciplines supported with real practice.
  3. Staff Professionalism: Maintaining the quality of competence, experience and skills in any of the health behavior change endeavors.
  4. Research: Ensuring research that is directly applicable to the societal needs and development as well as basic researches on innovative theories and models of behavior change for future predicted needs and demands of the society.
  5. Equity: The Department of Health Education & Behavioral Sciences envisions bringing health education and training opportunities accessible to all candidates irrespective of their socio-economic and political backgrounds
  6. Community Participation, Development and Empowerment: the Department from the start has a strong conviction in that active participation and involvement of the community in identifying their health needs, prioritizing, putting action plan, implementing it and monitoring and evaluation through the existing community organization as well as by creating new and valuable community organizations by the community themselves. Then only, any health program or development program can effectively utilize and empower the community for further health and quality of life.
  7. Service Extension: the Department also is trying to extend its service to the community organizations, NGOs, and Governmental Organizations to introduce new behavior and practice change theories and models such as community mobilization, social mobilization, social marketing, advocacy, coalition formation and networking, counseling psychology and health counseling through short training programs together with other collaborators.
  8. Transparency: creating, supporting and maintaining transparency and responsibility sharing working culture of the management and administrative process as well as the community; and clarifying ways of accountability to all real participants using and advocating the principles of behavior change and practicing those changes for common good and quality of life.
  9. Commitment: the Department is committed to high level performance, health service quality, organizational excellence and continuous development and improvement.
  10. Honesty: the Department is being committed to be ethical, honest and accountable to what it achieves.