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Open Access Highly Accessed Debate

Health promotion through self-care and community participation: Elements of a proposed programme in the developing countries

Khanindra Kumar Bhuyan

Author Affiliations

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK

BMC Public Health 2004, 4:11  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-4-11

Published: 16 April 2004

Abstract

Background

The concepts of health promotion, self-care and community participation emerged during 1970s, primarily out of concerns about the limitation of professional health system. Since then there have been rapid growth in these areas in the developed world, and there is evidence of effectiveness of such interventions. These areas are still in infancy in the developing countries. There is a window of opportunity for promoting self care and community participation for health promotion.

Discussion

A broad outline is proposed for designing a health promotion programme in developing countries, following key strategies of the Ottawa Charter for health promotion and principles of self care and community participation. Supportive policies may be framed. Self care clearinghouses may be set up at provincial level to co-ordinate the programme activities in consultation with district and national teams. Self care may be promoted in the schools and workplaces. For developing personal skills of individuals, self care information, generated through a participatory process, may be disseminated using a wide range of print and audio-visual tools and information technology based tools. One such potential tool may be a personally held self care manual and health record, to be designed jointly by the community and professionals. Its first part may contain basic self care information and the second part may contain outlines of different personally-held health records to be used to record important health and disease related events of an individual. Periodic monitoring and evaluation of the programme may be done.

Studies from different parts of the world indicate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of self care interventions. The proposed outline has potential for health promotion and cost reduction of health services in the developing countries, and may be adapted in different situations.

Summary

Self care, community participation and health promotion are emerging but dominant areas in the developed countries. Elements of a programme for health promotion in the developing countries following key principles of self care and community participation are proposed. Demonstration programmes may be initiated to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of this programme before large scale implementation.