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Alba Iulia
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Complementing health education with informal education

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Education is not just by formal means but through informal ways as well.

With formal education, we go through a system of tuition guided by a structured curriculum mostly within a school system. Informal education on the other hand, according to an online resource, is a general term for education that can occur outside of a structured curriculum. Experts describe Informal education as encompassing student’s interests within a curriculum in a regular classroom but is not limited to that setting. “It works through conversation, and the exploration and enlargement of experience.”

Health education programme, Nestlé Nutrition Line (NNL), is a typical informal education that is helping people to learn about health and nutritional issues. This has benefit for the general population especially caregivers who make our daily food and nutrition decisions.

Madam Mercy Boye, is the mother of two-year-old Martin. Mercy discontinued visiting the child welfare clinic when Martin turned two due to tight work schedules. Within a period of six months Martins growth slowed, he looked pale which is an indicator of poor nutrition and poor health.

Mothers

As most will do, Mercy discussed her challenge with a co-tenant Janet, a mother of two. Janet having faced a similar issue with her first child ten years ago, encouraged Mercy to go back to the child welfare clinic, so Martin’s growth can be monitored by the health care professionals.

Following the example of the great commission by Christians to be apostles of good news, Janet, also an ardent listener of Nestlé Nutrition Line (NNL), a public service radio program that provides health tips, recommend same to Mercy. She recalls that through education on one of the segments about the essence of water intake especially among children, she has made it a point to ensure that her children took adequate water daily.

The programme, she explains has taught her that iron is an essential nutrient for blood production in humans and also essential in promoting the cognitive development of infants. “I got to know that the future wellbeing of children under five could be impeded by iron deficiency, so I make sure my family members eat iron-fortified food, like kontomire among others,” Janet says.

Mr Obed Harrison, a Nutritionist and Researcher at the University of Ghana, described the iron deficiency issue in Ghana as alarming as the World Health Organisation termed countries with iron deficiency rate of 40 per cent and above as public health concern.

Among Adults, Mr Harrison explains that the easiest signs, to identify that one has inadequate levels of iron includes; continuous fatigue, dizziness, fast heartbeat, difficulty in concentration, short breath and pale eyelid/palm.

The condition according to the Scientist can be corrected and encouraged people to visit the hospital to seek medical care.

Currently, Nestlé is championing a campaign dubbed “Choose Iron”. Through the campaign, public education focuses on iron is broadcast through the NNL.

Ms. Samantha Wuta-Ofei, Marketing Service Manager, highlighted Nestlé’s desire to help build sound nutrition knowledge, empower individuals and families make informed choices on their diet to foster healthy lifestyles. “We also iron-fortify products like Milo, Maggi, Cerelac and a range of milk products”, says the Marketing Manager.

The many health and wellness topics discussed on NNL close to two decades and testimonies by listeners of this weekly broadcast programme points to the fact that the NNL programme complements health education in Ghana.

Recognizing that education is a powerful tool in helping individuals and families to make the right food choices, the NNL has been running for over 18 years and it is broadcast daily in English on Joy FM at 7:15 am and in Twi on Adom FM at 7:00 am.

Little Martin sent back to the child welfare clinic according to mother Mercy is doing well and he is gradually moving up his growth chart monitored by the health care professionals.

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