1. Requirements for primary training staff
Primary or full-time trainers who have major responsibility for the design, implementation, and evaluation of training programmes should have a thorough understanding of the content to be taught as well as previous experience and skills in using nonformal, participative, adult education methods. They should also be able to select and use practical and appropriate visual aids. Information about what knowledge and skills are required for primary trainers are described more fully in Steps I, II, III, IV, and VI of these guidelines. Trainers should be able to effectively implement the training activities listed in these sections.
Trainers must also have good communication skills, and have a sensitivity to the different attitudes and beliefs that healers bring to the programme. Trainers must understand these traditional beliefs so they can teach PHC knowledge and skills in ways that healers can easily understand and assimilate. In many cases, this can be achieved by showing how modern medical concepts, such as how a balanced diet or immunization can protect one against disease, are similar to some traditional beliefs about healing. This point has been discussed more fully in Step I-E.
2. Requirements for members of medical and public health staff
Other professional staff, such as doctors, nurses, health educators, nutritionists, and sanitation workers may need to teach portions of the curriculum that relate to their particular specialty area. These persons should be given an orientation to equip them with some basic attitudes and skills, such as the following:
• showing respect for and sensitivity to THPs and their traditional beliefs;
• using participative teaching methods;
• using appropriate practical visual aids;
• establishing good communication and collaboration between healers and health agency staff.
3. Requirements for members of the THP trainee group
Selecting one or more experienced and capable trainees to assist in the training programme can be very valuable for the programme. If possible, these persons should be included in the initial planning stages to obtain their suggestions and ideas about how to make the training successful. They should be prepared for the content they will present and be oriented in how to use practical teaching methods and materials. And, together with other trainers, they should be taught basic communication and counselling skills so they can work sensitively and effectively with other trainees and patients.
Experienced THPs, who may be mentors or instructors of other healers in the community, may be very skilled at teaching or interpreting health concepts in a manner that local healers can easily understand. For example, a training project in Mexico enlisted a member of the herbalist training group to help teach the traditional medicine section of the curriculum and to interpret some of the health content into local dialects.
Another advantage of using local healers as trainers is that this experience can enhance their skills in using effective training methods, for example, in conducting small group discussions and using other participative educational methods, such as demonstrations and visual aids. Then, after training is completed, these healer trainers can continue to use these training skills in the community with other healers and with community groups.