Dhaka, Bangladesh
Basic health edn for the illiterate

Editorial

Basic health edn for the illiterate

Human development involves a continuous and sustained process of learning and of applying what is learnt to improve the quality of life. This applies to all aspects of life including health and not only in the case of individual health. Learning is linked with the development of the individual and the uplift of the society. Therefore, a precondition to social progress and prosperity is that all children, youth and adults must be given the opportunity to achieve an acceptable level of learning. Such learning has to be flexible and broad in scope. It is true that there has been a phenomenal extension of primary schooling in our country during the last decade. But that is not enough. There must be supplementary alternative programmes to help meet the basic learning needs of both children with limited or no access to schools and youth and adults who did not have the opportunity to receive any education. The health education in our country undoubtedly leaves much to be desired. Literacy and basic education will no doubt contribute to a richer life. But should we wait till all the illiterate people are made literate before we provide them with the basic knowledge and skills relating to healthful living? The most realistic attack on the problem will, therefore, be to start large scale basic literacy and education programmes for the illiterate population and include suitable elements of health education in such programmes. Such programmes should include issues relating to sanitation, immunization, nutrition and pollution. It is necessary to develop appropriate programmes for the illiterate population depending largely on audio and visual appeal. Other issues that may be included in health education are antenatal care, child care, prevention of accident in children and old people, prevention of communicable diseases, venereal diseases, family planning, cancer and AIDS, dangers of smoking and drug abuse, dental care and environmental health. It will be well to remember that a bigger chunk of our population is still deprived of the medical facilities. A great many adult illiterates still live below the poverty line and in insanitary conditions. The malnutrition, ill health and human suffering often go hand in hand with illiteracy. It will not, therefore, be wise to remain blind to the economic and human cost of such a situation. To ignore the health of the illiterate segment of rural and urban people as well will frustrate the Health for All programmes of the authorities.

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