Concept of Health Education and Health Promotion in Nigeria


Concept of  Health Education and Health Promotion in Nigeria

This article focuses on understanding the definitions and concepts in health, health education, health promotion and differentiating health education from health promotion.

Also, concepts of health instruction, health services, healthful living, personal health, community health will be discussed.

By the end of this article, you will be able to:

explain the concept of health

describe the concept of health education and health promotion

differentiate between health education and health promotion

describe the concept of health instruction

describe the concept of health services as relate to the Nigerian health system

describe the concept of healthy living

explain personal health

discuss the concept community health


Definition and Concept of Health

The concept of health had been widely discussed among scholars across the globe with strong emphasis on the need to ensure that individuals display acceptable health practices to function effectively in the society.

Further, health has been given various definitions by several authorities, however, the most acceptable definition up till date is the one put up by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948:

Health is a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being and not merely the absence of disease of infirmity.

Alex Jadad and Laura O’Grady in 2009 have defined health as “the ability to adapt and self-manage” in the face of social, physical, and emotional challenges. The ability to adjust and cope with physical, mental and social challenges all through life truly makes one healthy.

This new definition seems to be well accepted by a lot of people because it is perceived as not being disease oriented.

The WHO definition was further analysed by Brussow (2013) as follows: with respect to physical health, the term of ‘allostasis’ was introduced – the maintenance of physiological homeostasis through changing conditions.

In the field of mental health exhibiting a sense of coherence such as consistency was identified as defining criterion.

Social health included people's capacity to fulfill their potentials and responsibilities, the ability to manage their life and to participate in social activities as well as doing their work.


Read: Symptoms, Pictures, Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Tonsillitis

7 Limitations of World Health Organization’s Definition of Health

1.  Health is dynamic, not a state

2.  The dimensions are inadequate

3. The definition is subjective

4.  Measurement is difficult

5.  The definition is idealistic rather than realistic

6.  Health is not an end but a means

7.  The definition lacks a community orientation.

Health is the most important thing in life without which we cannot do anything. The popular saying ‘health is wealth’ is very true because health issues that make people limited to do things that can make them financially successful.

There are mainly five dimensions to health: Health is not just about physical and medical; health is also about how people deal with emotional, mental and relationship health. At any stage in our lives, we must take care of our health; we must also learn to take life easy and live life to the fullest.

Why do you think health occupies a central stage in the lives of people in the society?

(a) Health deals with social, emotional and psychological conditions of human beings.

(b) Health will improve population level of a country.

(c) It is an important factor in education sector.

(d) Health will reduce the rate of divorce in the society


Concept of Health Education

To fully understand the concept of health education, it is necessary to know the meaning of education. Education is the process of facilitating learning, or acquiring knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits after studying particular subject matter or experiencing life lessons that provide an understanding of something.

Education requires some sort of instruction from an individual or composed literature.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), 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 provides knowledge on health-related aspects and develops the attitude of people to maintain sound health.

Among the major factors affecting health as put by WHO (2019) are:

• The social and economic environment,

• The physical environment,

• The person’s individual characteristics and behaviours.

The crust of health education lies in assisting individuals and communities to control these factors. Health Education is an important and integral role of public health.

In-Text Question (s) what are the three main factors affecting health which the health education has to assist in ensuring? Answer:

· The social and economic environment,

· The physical environment,

· The person’s individual characteristics and behaviors


3 key Elements  of Health Promotion

According to WHO (2016), health promotion helps people to intensify control over their own health. It covers a extensive range of social and environmental interventions that are designed to benefit and protect individual people’s health and quality of life by addressing and preventing the root causes of ill health, not just focusing on treatment and cure. There are three key elements of health promotion as highlighted by WHO (2016):

1. Good governance for health: Health promotion requires policymakers across all government to make general policies that consider health implications in all decisions taken. Such policies must be prioritized and prevent people from becoming sick and protect them from injuries.

These policies need to be supported by regulations that match private sector incentives with public health goals.

For example, by aligning tax policies on unhealthy or harmful products such as alcohol, tobacco, and food products which are high in salt, sugars and fat with measures to boost trade in other areas. And through legislation that supports healthy urbanization by creating walk able cities, reducing air and water pollution, enforcing the wearing of seat belts and helmets.

2. Health literacy: Educating people to acquire knowledge, skills and information to make healthy choices is necessary; for example, people should have knowledge of the nutrients in the food they eat and healthcare services that they need; this will enable them to make good choices.

They also need to be given assurance of an environment in which they can make a demand for additional policy actions to further improve their health.

3. Healthy cities:  Cities have a vital role to play in good health promotion. Strong leadership and commitment at the community level is essential to healthy urban planning and to build up preventive measures in communities and primary health care facilities. Healthy countries can grow from healthy cities and eventually, a healthier world.

In-Text Question (s)


What is health literacy?

Health literacy is educating people to acquire knowledge, skills and information to make healthy choices.

Comparison of Health Education and Health Promotion

At this juncture, it is important to differentiate between Health Education (HE) and Health Promotion (HP). Health Education and Health Promotion have multiple influences from several disciplines.

The primary influence on health education stemmed from behavioral sciences, and health promotion is firmly fixed in the social sciences.

Health education is defined as: “Any combination of learning experiences designed to facilitate voluntary adaptation of behavior conducive to health.” while Health Promotion “Is any combination of educational, organizational, economic and environmental support for behaviors and conditions of living conducive to health.”

Therefore, health education and health promotion have influence on peoples’ health behavioral change by educating them on the need for change and helping them to practicalize activities for change in schools and communities.

The two concepts are two sides of the same coin as they are complementary in action and need each other to succeed.


Some Terminologies in Health Education

i. Health Instruction:  Health instruction is a formal form of interaction where concepts of health (content to improve knowledge, attitude and practice) are taught with the intention of positively influencing these domains of learning to ensure that people are well equipped with relevant information and behave positively in matters of health. Health instruction takes place mostly in schools.

School Health Instruction (SHI) is the instructional aspects of school health programme.

It provides information on important health issues to school children who are still in their formative years.

ii. Health Services:  Health Services are centered on making accessible, high quality, and patient-centered health care. Health services serve patients, families, communities, and populations. They take care of emergency, preventative, rehabilitative, long-term, hospital, diagnostic, primary, palliative, and home care.

In a nutshell, Health educators provide preventive health services in schools and communities.

iii. Healthful Living:  ‘Healthy living’ means maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as introducing habits that improve one’s health. Combining health education and physical education leads to Healthful living. The two courses should complement each other.

iv. Personal Health: Personal health refers to the wellness of the individual. It is the ability to take charge of one’s health by making conscious decisions to be healthy. It is not only refers to the physical wellbeing of an individual but also involves the wellness of emotional, intellect, social, economic, spiritual and other areas of life.

v. Community Health:  According to Green and Ottoson (1999), a community was defined as “a group of inhabitants living in a somewhat localized area under the same general regulations and having common norms, values, and organizations”. “Community Health refers to the health status of a defined group of people and the actions and conditions put in place, both private (individual/communal and public (governmental), to promote, protect, and preserve their health” (McKenzie et al., 2005).


Conclusion on Concept OF Health Education and Health Promotion in Nigeria

This article has been able to take a broad view of health education and health promotion. Important concepts like health, health education, health promotion, comparison of health education and health promotion, health instruction, health services, healthful living, personal health and community health had been extensively discussed to provide you with understanding and skills on health-related issues.

We have been able to learn the definition of health and examine the weaknesses of WHO definition of health. We have studied major factors affecting health; we also studied 3 key elements of Health Promotion. We have examined various concepts and definitions used in some of relevant areas of health education and promotion.

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