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2.5m Family Health Promoters Trained
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2.5m Family Health Promoters Trained

More than 2.5 million family health promoters were trained on self-care under the ‘Health Ambassador’ scheme in the past year that ended on March 20. With this, more than 10% of Iranian families have been covered by the Health Ministry’s nationwide program.   
According to Shahram Rafieifar, head of the ministry’s Health Education and Promotion Department, the scheme was launched in 2014 under the Health Reform Plan, in an effort to enhance people’s health literacy and empower the public in self-care.
“Under this program, people are educated to exert more control over their own and that of their families’ health though comprehensive self-care methods which are reliable and adequate,” he was quoted as saying by Borna News Agency.
A volunteer member from each household who has completed at least eight years of academic education is trained in primary healthcare and they in turn transfer the knowledge to other family members.
In the absence of a qualified member, an “honorary health ambassador” is selected who will volunteer to cover his/her family as well as a maximum of five other households that have no representative.
The health representatives are also provided with self-care guidebooks and receive individual training on how to use the guides plus group courses appropriate to their respective conditions.
The guidebooks are classified into 7 sections: self-care in minor health conditions, risk evaluation for heart attack, stroke and cancer, healthy lifestyle, week to week self-care during pregnancy, 1,000 golden days (0-2 years), child raising skills and self-care in emergency situations.
In addition to family health ambassadors, representatives from among school and university students (one for every 10 students) will also be trained in cooperation with the ministries of science and education.
So far, 1.25 million ‘school ambassadors’ have received training and 250,000 university staff will be trained by September.
“The strategy can be effective in achieving the goal of universal health coverage,” said Rafieifar.  
With the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases, lifelong care is required for the affected people. Family role, as a result, is becoming more and more significant in taking care of individual as well as the overall health of members of the household in addressing health issues, including minor and chronic illnesses.
“Based on studies, today between 65% and 85% of all caring methods are classified as self-care,” the official noted.  In healthcare, self-care is any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated. In modern medicine, preventive medicine aligns most closely with self-care. It is seen as a partial solution to the global rise in healthcare costs placed on governments.
Self-care is considered a primary form of care for patients with chronic conditions who make many day-to-day decisions, or self-manage their illness. Self-care is learned, purposeful and continuous.
Rafieifar listed several topics of self-care such as protecting one’s physical, mental and social health, preventing dangerous incidents, managing chronic illnesses and taking care of oneself after an acute condition or leaving the hospital.
“According to recent data on health literacy in the country, one out of every two people has only limited knowledge in healthcare, the most significant outcome of which is the growing prevalence of chronic diseases,” he said.

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