|Home | About | Journals | Submit | Contact Us | Français|
A pilot project to train and deploy low-level rural health auxiliaries is being carried out in southern Iran. This first group of 16 village health workers (VHW) went to work in the initial 16 project villages early in 1974. The group consisted of 11 men and 5 women ranging in age from 15 to 45. These workers are taught to treat simple medical conditions, to practice preventive health measures, and to conduct health education and visit programs. Six months after initial deployment to the villages, a sample survey of 226 villagers was carried out to determine what characteristics of the VHW and of the consumers were associated with greater acceptance of the VHW's work and his or her role in the village. The results indicated that both male and female health workers are accepted in an equivalent role, and that workers returning to their own villages are no more or no less likely to have difficulties in gaining acceptance than are those returning to a different village. It was found that experience with a VHW of a particular sex could significantly alter attitudes toward the preferred for the VHW. The age of the worker was the only variable closely associated with the villagers' confidence in the worker--the older the VHW, the higher the villagers tended to rate his or her knowledge. In Iran, as in many developing countries, the rural village tends to be a closed, male-dominated group. The experience of the VHWs in Iran makes it apparent that the health worker, regardless of sex, age, or village of origin, can gain the confidence and respect of the villagers.