Updated: Jun 5
IEC is a broad term comprising a range of approaches, activities, and outputs. Although the most visible component of IEC is often the materials produced and used such as posters, materials are only one component. Effective IEC makes effective use of a whole range of approaches and activities. It is a strategy to spread awareness through communication channels to a target audience to achieve a desired positive result. It is a strategy of sharing information through the broadcast or the print media, or interpersonal communication in a manner, appropriate to the target group’s culture and values. It is intended to instill positive knowledge for appropriate behavior in the community which will promote preventive health measures and development. These channels of communication or IEC materials are either printed or broadcasted media such as posters, flyers, leaflets, brochures, booklets, radio broadcasts, or TV spots.
Globally, there has been a paradigm shift in recent years from sporadic awareness-raising information, education, and communication (IEC) activities to strategic, evidence-based Social behavior change communication (SBCC) strategies or a C4D approach to behavior change. The change has come about with the realization that as individual behavior is influenced by socio-cultural and gender norms, the need to mobilize communities in support of recommended behaviors is imperative along with integrating advocacy to influence policy and structural issues, leading to increasingly holistic approaches to health communication.
Use of IEC strategy focusing on materials
The government and social organizations, coupled with the health agencies, have extensively used IEC as an integral medium for social change and development, especially in rural areas. In the rural areas, the dire need for resources, unsuitable economic conditions, lack of awareness, and illiteracy have made these communication programs inevitable. IEC has become an effective medium for bringing awareness, providing information, eradicating mythical beliefs, and championing the cause of health and development.
In the health sector, IEC has played a pivotal role in spreading awareness and taking preventive measures. Through radio jingles, phone-in programs, TV slots, and printed materials, people have been made aware of swine flu, malaria, and infectious diseases. Awareness of hygiene and sanitary, nutritional diets, and programs such as RMNCH-A have been generated among the vulnerable sections in the rural areas through the IEC materials. Polio vaccination and immunization programs are widely posted and distributed in public spaces for spreading awareness. One of the most remarkable achievements of the IEC strategy is the campaign against the stigmatization of HIV-affected patients. Through the IEC programs, the government and health service agencies have orchestrated a much-needed campaign about the condition and its vulnerabilities, which is instrumental in eliminating preconceived notions and quenching rumors.
Governmental Schemes and Rights Awareness
The IEC programs are one of the inevitable ways of taking government policies to the grassroots level. They are pivotal in spreading awareness regarding various programs and policies to the beneficiaries, especially in the rural areas. Welfare programs undertaken by the government require extensive participation of the rural masses. This is possible only through extensive dissemination of the message. The importance of IEC lies in its consultative and specific research on the target groups, thus comprehending their needs and requirement. Many welfare programs undertaken by both the State and Central governments such as the PMGSY scheme for rural road connectivity, MGNREGA for 100 days of employment, and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana for rural housing are widely circulated through the IEC materials. Besides, information on safe drinking water, hygiene, and sanitation is done extensively through various IEC programs.
Hence, the real goal of IEC is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth