Understanding health, demands an understanding of the human biology, i.e., the structure and functions of the body; how to keep physically fit - the need for exercise, rest and sleep; the effects of alcohol, smoking and drugs on the body; cultivation of healthy life-styles, etc. Reproductive biology is another area of current interest. UNICEF's "State of the World's Children report 1989" has drawn up a basic list of health information which it believes, every family has a right to know. The list comprises of child spacing, breast feeding, safe motherhood, immunization, weaning and child growth, diarrhoeal disease, respiratory infections, house hygiene - which could enable families to bring about significant improvements in their own and their children's health.
The best place to teach human biology is the school. It is only the school, through its sequential health curriculum, which can provide continuous in-depth learning experiences for millions of students. The provision of information and advice on human biology and hygiene is vital for each new generation.
This has two aspects - personal and environmental. The aim of personal hygiene is to promote standards of personal cleanliness within the setting of the condition where people live. Personal hygiene includes bathing, clothing, washing hands and toilet; care of feet and teeth; coughing, sneezing, personal appearance and inculcation of clean habits in the young. Training in personal hygiene should begin at a very early age and must be carried through school age. ENVIRONMENTAL HYGIENE has two aspects - domestic and community. Domestic hygiene comprises that of the home, use of soap, need for fresh air, light and ventilation; hygienic storage of foods; hygienic disposal of wastes, need to avoid pests, rats, mice and insects. Improvement of environmental health is a major concern of many governments and related agencies throughout the world. A "group" is an "aggregation of people interacting in a face -to - face situation". This contrasts sharply to the group of students in a class room situation. Group discussion is considered a very effective method of health communication. It permits the individuals to learn by freely exchanging their knowledge, ideas and opinions. Group discussion provides a wider interaction among members than is possible with other methods. Where long term compliance is involved (e.g., cessation of smoking, obesity reduction) group discussion is considered valuable.
For effective group discussion, the group should comprise not less than 6 and not more than 12 members. The participants are all seated in a circle, so that each is fully visible to all the others. There should be a group leader who initiates the subject, helps the discussion in the proper manner, prevents side-conversations, encourages everyone to participate and sums up the discussion in the end. If the discussion goes well, the group may arrive at decisions which no individual member would have been able to make alone. It is also desirable to have a person to record whatever is discussed. The "recorder" prepares a report on the issues discussed and agreements reached. In a group discussion, the members should observe the following rules: (a) express ideas clearly and concisely (b) listen to what others say (c) do not interrupt when others are speaking (d) make only relevant remarks (e) accept criticism gracefully and (f) help to reach conclusions. Group discussion is successful if the members know each other beforehand, when they can discuss freely.
In a panel discussion, 4 to 8 persons who are qualified to talk about the topic sit and discuss a given problem, or the topic, in front of a large group or audience. The panel comprises, a chairman or moderator and from 4 to 8 speakers. The chairman opens the meeting, welcomes the group and introduces the panel speakers. He introduces the topic briefly and invites the panel speakers to present their points of view. There is no specific agenda, no order of speaking and no set speeches. The success of the panel depends upon the chairman; he has to keep the discussion going and develop the train of thought. After the main aspects of the subject are explored by the panel speakers, the audience is invited to take part. The discussion should be spontaneous and natural. If members of the panel are unacquainted with this method, they may have a preliminary meeting, prepare the material on the subject and decide upon the method and plan of presentation. Panel discussion can be an extremely effective method of education, provided it is properly planned and guided.