1 Department of Public Health, Medical School, University of Patras, Patras, Greece
After the outbreak of COVID-19, societies were called to face its spread with several measures. However, the health of every human being is a good that is necessary for the prosperity of a society. Public health is everyone's individual responsibility. Health education is the process that will lead to the proper and prepared behavior of societies in any virus outbreak, and this should be cultivated from a very young age starting from school.
Keywords: COVID-19, Pandemic, Health education, Health promotion, School, Pulic health.
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COVID-19 Pandemic: The Vaccine of a Society is its Education
To The Editor,
After the sudden transformation of COVID-19 into a pandemic, humanity was called to face an invisible new enemy. Individuals had to be equipped with appropriate means of protection against the virus and follow hygiene rules. Poor education of a population is linked with global public health problems, increasing the transmission of communicable diseases. Health is important for the well-being of individuals and communities, but also a prerequisite for productivity and economic growth. Public health is combined with disease prevention and promotes a public good [1Dees R. Public health and normative public goods. Public Health Ethics 2018; 11: 20-6. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/phe/phx020] ]. Consequently, individuals owe to realize the power that determines public health in their own hands. People must strive to conquer their health and to control the situations that determine their lives.
The main mechanism for this process is the cultivation of basic health education from an early age. Health education is a multidimensional process of spiritual, psychological, social and medical basics and activities leading to a better understanding of health problems and strengthening the responsibility and ability of the individual to make the right decisions supporting their personal well-being, the well-being of their family and their society. This process needs to be ongoing and systematic. According to WHΟ, health education combines learning practices to aid individuals and communities ameliorate their health by increasing awareness or changing attitudes [2Health Education [Internet]. World Health Organization. Available from:
Every year, hundreds of children around the world attend classes in schools. Some of them may be vulnerable to health behaviors, others may already be experiencing some health problems [3Marks R. Schools and health education: What works, what is needed, and why? Health Educ 2008; 109: 4-8. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09654280910923345] ]. School is the right place to begin health education for children and adolescents. It is better to develop non-destructive health behavior at young age than to try to change an established harmful habit later [4Hagquist C, Starrin B. Health education in schools-from information to empowerment models. Health Promot Int 1997; 12: 225-32. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapro/12.3.225] ]. Children also develop attitudes to their environment that do not change easily and at the same time, they are agents to promote responsible behaviors to others. As a result, children can influence their parents' attitudes and cause their behavior to change. A corresponding example is the study of Garbin, where parents and family members of preschoolers changed their oral health routine because their children transmit their knowledge gained at school [5Garbin C, Garbin A, Dos Santos K, Lima D. Oral health education in schools: Promoting health agents. Int J Dent Hyg 2009; 7(3): 212-6. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1601-5037.2009.00394.x] [PMID: 19659718] ].
School health promotion programs can significantly help to determine the overall health of the population worldwide [3Marks R. Schools and health education: What works, what is needed, and why? Health Educ 2008; 109: 4-8. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09654280910923345] ]. Children and teens adopt daily healthy manners such as frequent washing of hands, maintaining physical distance and learn actions to take care of their health and of others. In other words, school can prepare the agents that will promote how to act in a socially responsible way. Implementing health education as a compulsory teaching at kindergarten, children are encouraged and develop a more mature way of thinking about dealing with future symmetrical and asymmetrical threats that they will transmit to their immediate environment. The specialist group most suitable for the training of teachers in health education in schools should consist of health professionals and be led by general practitioners. The seed of school health promotion and education will bloom in two to three generations. After all, the best vaccine for a society is nothing more than its Education.