Health education is any combination of learning experiences designed to help individuals and communities improve their health, by increasing their knowledge or influencing their attitudes.
Health education is a vital, low-cost and simple component of most interventions for prevention and control of many NTDs, especially for prevention of disabilities. Since NTD transmission is enabled by human activities and behavior, education on sanitation, personal and cooking hygiene, and vector control can prevent (re-)infection within the community. Increasing their knowledge on self-care, skills, resources and support to practise selfcare every day can prevent the development of disabilities and further progression of the disease.
For which NTDs is this relevant?
Health education is relevant for all NTDs.
In the past, NTD health education and NTD programs in general have been neglected. Nowadays, the international community is beginning to recognize the need to focus on this problem. They acknowledge that the inclusion of health education is a necessary component of any new strategy that intends to be sustainable, as human activities and behavior still determine to a large extent the (re-)infection cycles of NTDs and the progress of the disease. Although elements of health education are integrated in NTD programs, they are not adapted to local contexts. It is seen that local culture, beliefs and practices still affect the management of NTDs and exclude people with NTD-related disabilities.
The NALA Foundation Merck and FMoH have developed practical SCH-STH-Trachoma health education implementation materials. These materials are designed to be used by professionals in the field: teachers, health workers, community leaders and volunteers. The manuals include lesson plans for the classroom or community settings on disease prevention and healthy hygiene, along with explanation of disease vectors and symptoms.
Sightsavers and the NALA Foundation have developed Trachoma materials, such as tools for the trachoma representative for leading a successful health education program, tools for leading a successful health education program in school for the pre-primary trachoma representative, and a handbook for health and educational professionals, social activists and all who aim to create positive change in the global health field.