A profile of the health promoter in schools in the North West Province
Le Roux, Villera
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To accomplish health for all, a unified approach and effective collaboration by all stakeholders to promote health is essential. Health Promoting schools were conceptualised by the World Health Organisation to achieve better health promotion outcomes. In the process of achieving health promotion status, input from various stakeholders is essential. Health promoters are seen as an appropriate and costeffective option to help promote health in a setting such as a school. Health promoters working in schools are also a relatively new field in South Africa and in the North-West Province of South Africa. Consequently, limited studies explored health promoters in school settings, and particularly the profile of health promoters. The identity of and function of health promoters when they promote health is particularly important given that national and provincial government depend on health promoters to educate teachers and students regarding health topics and to guide school communities in enhancing holistic wellness. This study therefore aimed to create a profile of the health promoter in the North-West Province, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda District, in order to assist them with social and health challenges they may encounter. Since very little is known about the profile of the health promoter, a quantitative study was conducted involving 13 participants (11 males; 2 females), who are employed as health promoters in school settings in the North-West Province, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda district. The Health Promoter Questionnaire was developed to obtain quantitative data regarding health promoters’ biographical information, training and qualifications, work description, way of communication, planning, school visits, transportation, support, barriers, coping strategies and personal health. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics (frequencies) to create a profile of the health promoter in the North-West Province, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda District. Findings revealed that the health promoters are mainly males, relatively young, proficient in two or three languages with matriculation certificates, but no additional formal training or experience in health-related topics. Although the Department of Health provided some form of training, the health promoters indicated insufficient knowledge in specific health promotion themes such as violence prevention, suicide prevention and alcohol and drug prevention. The need for more training on various other topics such as the handling of conflict, better communication, reporting of misconduct to appropriate individuals and procedures to make referrals to professionals was also identified. Apart from health-related barriers such as HIV/AIDS, violence as well as drugs and alcohol abuse, health promoters also face additional barriers such as unclear job descriptions, insufficient planning such as rotation based plans and follow-up visits to schools, as well as insufficient time spent at schools. Health promoters also receive insufficient support from the Department of Education and Department of Health in addressing these barriers. The profile of the health promoter will therefore assist local and provincial government to create and implement programs and plans that could assist health promoters in the execution of their duties. Additional recommendations refer to the training of health promoters regarding the myriad barriers they face, the implementation of clear job descriptions, as well as relevant support services regarding work and personal problems. As this study is only focused on health promoters in school settings in the North-West Province, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda District, it is suggested that future studies focus on health promoters in other contexts and in other provinces in South Africa
- Education 
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