Hesperian Health Guides
Chapter 2: Understanding and Mobilizing for Community Health
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When Gloria and other health promoters realized many people in Manglaralto and the surrounding region were getting sick, they quickly knew the problem was cholera, a community health problem with an environmental cause: contaminated water. The health promoters and village health educators went from house to house to educate everyone about the problem and what to do. Once the success of the basic treatments had earned people's trust, the community began to work on the root causes of the cholera and other health problems.
Working on the root causes through community participation and education, the community was able to begin making many environmental health improvements. With each improvement, the villagers gained greater confidence in their ability to change their own lives.
It is necessary to ask many questions and collect information in various ways to find the cause of a health problem. Often there are strong conflicts in a community that require long processes of discussion and struggle to resolve. While each community will find its own way toward making changes and use different activities as it organizes, the experiences of Salud para el Pueblo give some examples of how communities can learn about the root causes of environmental health problems and work to change them.