Hesperian Health Guides

Working for Change

Working toward a balance between treatment and prevention

an arm with the word "treatment" on it shaking hands with one labeled "prevention"

Health workers, or anyone working to improve the health of women in the community, can play an important role in stopping illnesses before they start. But often a woman’s main need is not preventing illness but getting relief from an illness she already has. One of the first concerns of a health worker, then, must be to help with healing.

But treatment can be used as a doorway to prevention. One of the best times to talk to a woman about prevention is when she comes to see you for help. For example, if a woman comes to you with an infection of the urine system, treat the problem first. Then take time to explain how she can prevent these infections in the future.

Work toward a balance between prevention and treatment that is acceptable to the women you see. This balance will depend a lot on how the women already feel about sickness, healing, and health. As daily survival becomes less of a challenge, as their ideas about health change, and more diseases are controlled, you may find that they become more interested in prevention. Then much needless suffering can be avoided, and you can help women work toward more effective self-care.

Health workers can play an important role in helping women work together to prevent women’s health problems in the community.

a woman talking to three others while they all sit under a tree

This page was updated:01 Feb 2021