Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

Health Education for Primary Health Care Development in Kenya

Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

Health Education for Primary Health Care Development in Kenya

Article excerpt

This paper discusses appropriate ways to strengthen community health education activities and training for health education in order to improve the effectiveness of the National Health Education programme in Kenya. The study procedure involved drawing of relevant experiences from a review of related literature and discussing in the light of health education problems in Kenya to help make suitable conclusions and recommendations for improving the Kenyan situation. It was revealed that the National Health Education programme in Kenya has many constraints which need priority attention through practical support from the Ministry of Health in the areas of resource allocation, management, reorganization of the Division of Health Education in order to introduce effective management capabilities, revival of training for health education officers; review of the training curricula for all health workers so that health education is introduced as a major subject of study, introducing incentives and attractive scheme of service for health education officers, and setting performance standards concepts, training models, educational materials and programme evaluations. It is also proposed that the Division of Health Education be renamed the Division of Health Promotion, in charge of health promotion activities and Health Promotion Officers

Keywords: health education, health promotion, human communication theory, training; primary healthcare development

INTRODUCTION

In 1963, Kenya became an independent nation within the Commonwealth. The administration of the country is done within a five-tier system of the Provinces, Districts, Divisions, Locations and Sublocations. All districts are centres of development activities coordinated by District Commissioners. In this way, they support the government policy on District Focus Strategy for Rural Development, which was started in1983 to decentralize decision-making to the grass-roots level and to turn the districts into centres of planning and implementing projects (Kenya Government, 1983). According to the provisional results of the census of 1989, the Republic of Kenya had a population of 21,397 million and a growth rate of 3.3 4%. It appeared that this was a significant change compared with 1979 when it was 3.8%. The country had a fertility rate of 6.1% and a contraceptive prevalence rate of 27% plus a life expectancy of 59 years (Central Bureau of Statistics, 1991)

Sindiga (1985, p. 72) attributes Kenya's high demographic change to improved healthcare and the falling mortality rates. The seemingly low prevalence rate of contraceptives is attributed to the side-effects of contraceptives and unreceptive attitudes. The same commentator observes that Kenya's fertility patterns do not clearly fit into the European Demographic Transitional Model, which suggests that the population stabilizes (lowering of births and deaths) as modernisation sets in. He also opines that in Kenya, traditional structures of family life and the values attached to children would sustain high fertility even as the effects of modernisation lead to lower mortality. In other words, the benefits of modernisation seem to have improved the health status among the poor but are not yet sufficient to lower the fertility rate. He concludes that modern contraception in Kenya appears to have been adopted by a small number of women mainly as an aid to child spacing rather than limiting family size. In most developing countries, Kenya included, the deliberate spacing of births is a completely new idea. In many cases, reasons given for desiring more children are: the need to ensure family survival, to attain social status, the fear of losing children, religious fatalistic beliefs and distrust of contraceptives. Currently, the Ministry of Health does not have specific family planning programmes for the youths who form half of the population (MOH/GTZ, 1988).

Kenya is a multi-cultural country with about fifty indigenous groups, as well as different racial groups of mainly Asians and Europeans. …

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