Understanding the African mindset may help promote health education in rural areas

January 13, 2016

However, people in Africa are more likely to die from the disease, which again worsens its negative effect. AIDS is rarely contracted by children and the elderly, rather by men and women between 24 and 40 years of age. As a result, there are villages where children are brought up by the old, and the local economy has stagnated.

HIV/AIDS also implies additional strains on health workers. Rather than putting up with difficult working conditions in Africa, well-qualified physicians go to London and New York, where they are likely to get better jobs and higher pay. Furthermore, modern medical aid is expensive. There are ongoing discussions in Ghana about how patients should be treated, and how to cover the costs.

Examples to be followed/p>

There is no consensus among international scientists and health organisations on how HIV/AIDS in Africa should best be combated, professor Knudsen observes. Still, together with his co-author Phyllis Antwi, who is an experienced health administrator and teacher at the School of Public Health, he can see that successful efforts are being made.

Ms Antwi holds up Navrongo and Upper East Region as evidence of the success of long-term, goal-oriented efforts.

"These examples can teach us how to develop better health education," says Knudsen.

In his opinion, health education in Africa has often been characterized by a top-down, Western approach. A number of campaigns have demonstrated international organisations' limited understanding of the African mindset, he asserts.

As an example of a better approach, he refers to local dance groups, like those seen in Ghana. According to Knudsen, they have proven themselves to be very effective, especially in addressing young people.

"Being a country with high illiteracy rates, Ghana has a strong oral tradition. Combining this with traditional dancing, these groups are successfully promoting health education in rural areas," Knudsen says.

"If one understands people's mindset, one is more likely to connect with them," he concludes.

Source: University of Stavanger