Information, Education through communication


Communication is an integral and important component of the total health programmes. Communication has attained greater importance in health promotion and development. Communication is the back-bone of Modern Society. If community participation is the heart of Primary Health Care, Communication is the blood.

It is a link between the health providers and the community. Community participation is the corner-stone for communication. Communication is a means to mobilising the people and seeking their willing co-operation in political, social, health and economic developments. The main role of communication is providing information, persuasion, motivation, reminding and influencing the behaviour of the people.

In developing countries, Communication plays an important role in changing the knowledge, attitude and behaviour of the people. As stated by the WHO Expert Committee (TRS 690). "If people are to fulfil their role in Primary Health Care, they have to be well informed and this is an important function of health providers and the Mass Media". For changing the behaviour of the people, worker has to involve the people adequately and appropriately by providing scientific information. Then only, people will understand and realise the need and importance of Health and Eye Health Care.

Communication provides situation in which people educate themselves and to achieve health by their own actions and efforts. Knowledge alone is not enough to change behaviour. Beliefs and attitudes are also essential to change the behaviour. Basically, IEC is the selling of concepts and services through community involvement and participation.

IEC is a concentrated pre-planned educational endeavour with specific objectives, focussed towards specific programme goals in order to reach specific audience either in individual, or group settings through skillful use of proper methods and media.

The word 'Information' in Social Interaction, is used in different ways. We speak of useful, valuable, factual, reliable, precise true information and so on. Information is about something. It can be about an object, people, situation or events etc. The information involves informants, advisers, reference book compilers as well as those act on the information.

Clarity, usefulness and value of certain information depends upon the person, his needs and circumstances. The reliability depends upon the personal experience of that particular source of information. Factual or preciseness do not require a person or user. For example the following statements convey increasingly precise information to anybody. For creating potential action in the recipient, semantic precision is necessary.

  1. "A car will leave from somewhere, for elsewhere soon"
  2. "A car will leave from Madras for Madurai today".
  3. "A non-stop car will leave from Madras Central Bus stand for Madurai at 10.30 AM. Today".
Information adds to the store of knowledge of an individual Information in an organised way is concerned with transfer of facts. Information is mainly used to inform the people about Government policies, plans, programme achievements, etc.,

Function of Information:

  1. Reduces uncertainity or disorganisation
  2. Regulate the level of social tension .
  3. "Temperature controlling Agent" Raise social aspiration. 4. Fill the gap in knowledge and create awareness
  4. Inspire people to move.

Education is concerned with opening out the horizons to choose his interests and mode of living. It is a process of continuous interaction in which both teachers taught and get benefitted. It helps to mould the behaviour pattern of man and to adjust himself. Educational process is a planned effort to achieve pre-determined objectives related to thinking, feeling and practices.


Communication is a process of transmission of ideas, thoughts, feelings, behaviour from one person to another and thus to obtain desirable response to what is being transmitted.

The IEC strategies adopted in Govt./NGO's in promoting people's involvement for Health and eye health programme with special reference to group and intersonal approaches are as follows:

  1. Identifying the communication needs to plan IEC activities
  2. Training Health Functionaries
  3. Training of Community leaders/Volunteers
  4. Training of Mothers(M.S.S.)
  5. Training and working with TBA, Indigenous Medical Practitioners. Involvement of Health related sector personnel - A WW,CNW, Teachers Gramasevaks, Animators and postmasters.
  6. Use of Satisfied adopters
  7. Involvement of NGO's
  8. Adopting Social Marketing Technique
  9. Effective use of Mass Media for back-up (Cable TV, Folk Media) Strengthening inter personal communication and
  10. Follow-up of the programme.

IEC approaches:

People vary in their life-style and the level of knowledge. An uniform lEC approach may not be suitable. So, a mixture of different approaches may be used depending upon the local situation, audience, purpose, programme needs and felt needs of the community. These could be classified as

  1. Group Approach
  2. Individual Approach

Each approach has its own advantages and limitation depending upon the purpose and situation.

For interpersonal and group approaches, appropriate methods and media have to be selected depending upon the community and content of the messages. It is also better to find out already existing communication channels and level of information through KAP study. Based on the KAP findings, the worker has to select methods and media suitable on promoting people's involvement with special reference to interpersonal and group approaches. Common methods and media which are suitable for rural areas for interpersonal and group approaches are given below:

Methods and Media for Group and Interpersonal Approaches:

Communication :

Approaches Method Media
Group Approach
  1. Group Discussion
  2. Demonstration
  3. Role-play
  1. Film
  2. Tape-recorder
  3. T.V.
  4. Video
  5. Flashcard
  6. Flannel-graph
  7. Puppet-show
  8. Flipbook
  9. Booklets
  10. Leaflets
Inividual Approach
  1. Home visit
  2. Individual contact
  3. Counselling
  1. Photo-folder
  2. Booklets
  3. Leaflets
  4. Kits
  5. Flashcards
  6. Models

Both mass media, interpersonal communication have their individual and complementary roles. Information transmitted by media carries a certain amount of weightage. Interpersonal communication helps to reach deeper into the attitudinal and motivational core of the individual. It also helps to decision making process and to solve psychological problems. Feedback is possible in interpersonal communication when both are combined, the chances of influencing people to take appropriate actions are greatly increased. Mass communications cannot replace face to face approaches.

Each has its definite and well defined objectives. Mass Media programmes are best followed up with the effective system of interpersonal communications, so that awareness can be converted into actions without any lapse of time.

Strategies to improve both IEC activities and service deliver are to

  1. Increase the reach of services by making visits of workers and supervisors more predictable and regular;

  2. lmprove quality of services through knowledge and skill development of workers;

  3. Make supervision more oriented towards problem solving;

  4. Link supervision with training at various levels;

  5. Concentrate on local field problems, both for development training materials and their uses;

  6. Combine interpersonal communication strategy with mass media approach;

  7. Streamline supply systems to meet the local needs of health and family welfare units; 8. Establish relationship between various levels and elements of the system and 9. Improve performance levels through continuous interaction with village community volunteers.