INTRODUCTIONHealth promotion is important in healthcare practices as it helps individuals, families, and communities to improve their health. There are different nursing definitions that talks about activities that increase health as an important role when offering nursing care.Florence Nightingale, the mother of all nursing, influenced modern nursing practices by focusing on three key areas that are the person, the health and the environment. It also gave emphasis on encouraging healthy living and healing as being core to nursing practice. (Nightingale, 1859)Nursing, as defined by the American Nurses Association is ‘the protection, promotion and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities and populations (Cox, & Werner, 2009).In the policy statement by ANA (1995), the promotion of health and prevention of diseases involves complex and multiple activities that do not focus only on individuals but on families and communities. Approaches, therefore, should include primary, secondary and tertiary levels of prevention while involving the general populace in its implementation because those who are directly involved in its formulation are the same to implement it.Based on the evidence above, it is apparent that health education and promotion play a vital role in health care delivery. This paper, therefore, seeks to reveal the importance of health education in the promotion of health. DEFINITIONSHealth is a state of complete physical and psychosocial well-being and not merely the absence of diseases (WHO, 1948).Health education is offering information to individuals and the community to empower them on making positive choices on healthy living practices.Health promotion is the activity that aids people to have complete control over their health.FACTORS AFFECTING HEALTHPHYSICAL FACTORSThere are many factors that affect the health of which physical factors are not an exception. According to number 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), clean water is a basic human need and should be accessible to all (UN, 2015). However, there is a lack of knowledge in the treatment of water as most people do not get access to safe and potable water and are therefore prone to infections and water-borne diseases. Housing and clean air is a major factor in healthcare and poor housing is an issue of health importance (Sharfstein, 1998). Some people in deprived areas live in dilapidated and choked houses and therefore do not get access to clean and fresh air. Such people are prone to airborne diseases.SOCIAL FACTORSIt is an established fact that the use of alcohol causes disability and death worldwide (Rehm et al., 2009). Despite the above fact, knowledge is still deficient when it comes to the use of alcohol and its related effects. Therefore, more deaths and disability ensures due to lack of information concerning alcohol and its use.According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable diseases and death globally. There have been efforts to reduce the prevalence of smoking worldwide but it continues to be a menace to society and to health mainly due to improper information dissemination and lack of education.ORGANISATIONAL FACTORSIt is well known that certain organizational factors such as the non-use of personal protective equipment pose a major risk to health. Such PPEs may include masks, gloves, and aprons. Even though most organizations operate with harmful substances and machines during work, not everyone has the knowledge on the use of PPEs and subsequent dangers they are exposed to.IMPORTANCE OF HEALTH EDUCATION• It encourages organizations to make informed choices concerning their work in order to avoid work-related casualties• It enables individuals to exercise complete control over their health• It enables families to make healthy life choices concerning their everyday living• It helps individuals to identify risky life behaviors and adopt healthy lifestylesCHALLENGES WITH HEALTH EDUCATIONUsing multiple ways to communicate to the society about issues of health importance can be very effective at times (Mills & Gregg, 2015). Every society has a way of receiving and giving information. Some are well versed with electronic means whiles others rely on word of mouth. When the health advocator fails to understand their language, it becomes a problem to relay the health education properly Unique cultural norms and values can affect the success of every health education (Mills & Gregg, 2015). Many cultures have deeply rooted norms concerning some particular foods, certain behaviors, and relationships with healthcare providers. There is, therefore, a problem when they are educated on some nutritious foods that their culture does not allow them to eat. There are also some behaviors some society frowns upon such as shaking the hands of a chief or wearing some clothes associated with a particular sex. Some also have negative experiences with previous healthcare workers who worked there and therefore would not want to associate any longer with healthcare workers.Some local circumstances pose a greater challenge in health education and its implementation (Mills & Gregg, 2015). Some communities are hard to reach due to certain factors such as lack of transportation, lack of good roads, identification of the areas in need of education and poor accessibility of such areas. It is therefore difficult to disseminate health information to such areas due to the above factors.Lack of skills has also been identified to be a major challenge during health education. Some healthcare providers may have very good knowledge on important health issues but may lack the skills necessary to disseminate such information. These may be partly due to the fact that they work in certain departments such as the intensive care unit and therefore do not see health education as part of their roles. They, therefore, will not be able to offer health information as much as they are expected to.DEALING WITH CHALLENGES IN HEALTH EDUCATIONIdentification of the best ways of communication can be very effective in offering health education. The healthcare provider needs to understand the changing aspects of the community as well as how they receive information and form focus groups (Mills& Gregg, 2015) in order to give the education in the best way possible.One way that has been proved to be effective is making a conscious effort to recognize and understand the cultural norms and values, developing strategies to address them before implementing the health education program (Mills & Gregg, 2015). Once the issue of cultural conflict has been dealt with, the community members will feel at ease to participate in implementing and evaluating the health education program.The provision of logistics, transportation means, and good coverage will encourage health workers to go the extra mile in order to reach more people even those in deprived areas. Community stakeholders, other health organizations or even non-governmental organizations can also be involved because they also play major health roles in the community.The healthcare workers also need skills development programs to improve upon their ways and means of delivering information. Skills development programs could include speech training, body mechanics, maintaining eye contact and proper gestures. Aside from this, the healthcare providers who find themselves in departments not directly linked with health education should be encouraged to take up courses that will enable them to give health education when need be. Possessing these skills will give the health care provider much confidence when delivering health education.RECOMMENDATIONSWith the scope of nursing definitions expounded above, it is evident that health education programs are necessary for health promotion practices. Education should be given on the use of proper means to counter the physical factors that affect health which includes knowledge on the use of clean water, proper waste disposal and good housing units. Provision of education on the use and associated effects on alcohol intake and smoking is an excellent way to allow people to make informed choices about their health and lifestyle. People working in harmful working conditions should be educated on the use of PPEs in order to protect themselves from the various dangers related to their work.CONCLUSIONNurses play a vital role in health education. Every aspect of the lives of an individual, family and the community is directly influenced by the state of health and the environment. Based on various nursing theories, it is quite evident that health education and promotion play a vital role in health care delivery. Physical, social and organizational factors may affect health negatively or positively. They may include drinking clean water, either to use or avoid using drugs or alcohol and smoking and the use of personal protective equipment at workplaces. Also, there are various challenges with health education which include language barriers, cultural norms, and values, local circumstances such as lack of transportation and lack of communication skills of the healthcare worker. These circumstances can be met by identification of the best way of communicating, recognizing and understanding the cultural norms and values, using the less expensive means of transport and improvement in the communication skills of the healthcare worker.
Table of Contents