Community Action for Health in Belarus

The Belarus Red Cross with the support of the Swiss Red Cross has been implementing the Community Action for Health project in Belarus since 2014. The overall objective of the project is to strengthen the health of the inhabitants of Belarus and motivate them to change their behavior toward a healthy lifestyle (HLS). The project idea is to mobilize people from local communities for HLS promotion and non-communicable diseases (NCD) prevention activities.

Actually, the project unites more than 580 volunteers of different age, professional and social status who are participants of 14 initiative groups on HLS in small towns and villages of Grodno, Mogilev and Vitebsk regions in Belarus. These are people who are passionate about healthy lifestyles and are ready to help others to change their behavior towards HLS. Participants’ age: 31-60 years old – 50%, 18-30 years old – 25%, 60+ years old – 25%.

Members of initiative volunteer groups meet to Minsk. Photo by Egor Babiy for the Belarus Red Cross

The main project principle is active participation to mobilize and to empower communities. People themselves identify and analyze problems, make decisions about the strategy of the action and play a leading role in the implementation of these actions.

Initiative groups on healthy lifestyle:

  • engage HLS volunteers and train them
  • inform their communities about HLS and prevention of NCDs
  • conduct regular classes in fitness, yoga, Nordic walking, master classes on healthy eating
  • promote cycling and hiking
  • provide individual accompanying support to people that try to change the way of life towards a healthy one
  • create conditions for healthy lifestyles in local communities


In Pavlovo village appeared a fitness room thanks to the initiative group. Photo: Victor Gilitsky


In Polotsk the initiative group regularly organizes sports events for people aged 60+. Photo: Evgeny Ottsetski

Initiative groups on healthy lifestyle prepared and implemented 14 initiatives that have improved the conditions for health promotion in local communities and has been popular:

  • ecological paths for hiking and cycling, Nordic walking
  • rental of bicycles and sticks for Nordic walking
  • fitness rooms and outdoor sports grounds
  • healthy eating room


The initiative group installed an outdoor sports ground in Zelenka village. Photo: Egor Babiy


In the town of Bogushevsk appeared cycling routes and bike hire. Photo: Evgeny Ottsetski


HLS volunteers in Gorki town motivate local community to do Nordic walking. Photo: Evgeny Ottsetski

Training on NCDs prevention and behavior change

Training on NCDs prevention and behavior change towards HLS is carried out on the basis of the adapted training module developed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Over the years 2015 - 2017, trained instructors conducted around 350 trainings on prevention of NCDs and promotion of HLS and trained more than 4 100 residents of local communities.

In addition, around 110 trained volunteers provided individual accompanying support to residents of local communities (relatives, friends, colleagues) to facilitate their behavior change. Doe to their support, 315 people were able to change their life style towards a healthier one.


Training for trainers on healthy lifestyle based on the methodological books-modules on HLS and NCD prevention elaborated by the IFRC

Health campaigns

Initiative volunteer groups on HLS have organized and conducted 4 campaigns on NCDs prevention and promotion of HLS, involving about 25,900 Belarusians. In addition, groups regularly hold various thematic events: meetings, round tables, competitions, master classes, lectures, actions.

Within the health campaigns videos, posters, billboards dedicated to the prevention of behavioral risk factors for NCDs were produced in a single design. The videos have been broadcast on the national and regional TV channels, in buses and trams, at metro stations in Minsk, in healthcare, education, culture institutions. Posters have been distributed to educational, health, sports and tourism institutions, local authorities, as well as located at public transport stops in the regions and in Minsk. The total coverage of the population with social advertising amounted to more than 1 million people.

How to prevent noncommunicable diseases? The video social advertising

Media support

Effective collaboration with national, regional and local media is established. Over 2015-2017, 465 materials (articles, interviews, photo reports) were published: about the project, about the activities of initiative volunteer groups on healthy lifestyle and success stories of the IG participants.

The website of the project is established and available in Russian and English languages:

The feedback of partners

The positive impact of the project on local communities, their potential for changing behavior towards a healthy lifestyle is proved by the feedback of representatives of partner organizations.

Maria Koshko, chairperson of the Pavlovsky village council: "Due to the project, people in the villages of our village council have the opportunity to diversify their lives, change their behavior towards HLS. It is a misconception that rural residents do not need anything other than agriculture. Many of them are enthusiastic about joining our group, and help implement our ideas! Together we arranged places for practicing Nordic walking and fitness. "

Vladimir Kunts, chief doctor of the Central District Hospital (Oshmyany): "The establishment of a healthy eating room was the starting point and showed the population of our town an alternative to fast food. I am sure that this will help to instill a culture of healthy eating not only in children and adolescents, but also in adults. The hospital has allocated and equipped a room in which trainings and consultations on the NCDs prevention for hospital patients are held regularly. "

Voitekh Kovzan, chairman of the Golshansky village council: "I consider this project necessary and important, because the more people take care of their health the healthier our population, our relatives and friends will be. Moreover, due to the project activities, people in our local community began to change, became more active, support our initiative group, keep joining us. People are no longer indifferent to what happens to them, what happens in the place where they live. "

"Together to health!"

The slogan "Together to health!" embodies the main idea: to create a movement of volunteers and to unite all those who are engaged in a healthy lifestyle. People find it easier to change their behavior when they feel the support of others. The logo reflects these principles and represents a handshake of two people, transformed into a graphic image.


The effectiveness of the project

The effectiveness of the project is evident in the results of a comparative sociological survey conducted in 2017. Its goal was to analyze the differences in knowledge and behavior of the population in the context of healthy lifestyle, depending on the degree of involvement in the project activities (compared to the results of the baseline study of 2014). Over 1 860 people aged 16-75 years were questioned: members and volunteers of the initiative groups on healthy lifestyle; population covered by the activities of the IGs on healthy lifestyle; population not covered by the project activities.

The results of the study demonstrated that the population groups covered by the NCDs prevention and HLS promotion activities practice a healthier lifestyle, in comparison to the unreached population:

  • increased their physical activity (63,6% participants and volunteers od IGs on HLS covered by the activities of IGs ion HLS)
  • practice healthy eating (53,3 – 41,5% respectively)
  • quit smoking (12,5 – 16% respectively)
  • reduced alcohol consumption (4,4 – 8,5% respectively)

 The population groups covered by the project activities notice improvement in their health:

  • better general health condition (45% of participants and volunteers of the IG for HLS and 43.9% of the population covered by the activities of UGs on HLS)
  • weight loss (29,2% – 20,1% respectively)
  • stabilized blood pressure (13,6% – 20,1% respectively)

Participation in the project activities contributes to the improvement of social communication: more than 60% of participants have expanded the circle of acquaintances.

The project has been piloted in 5 districts of Belarus (Polotsk and Senno districts of Vitebsk region, Oshmyany and Slonim districts of Grodno region, Gorky city of Mogilev region) and replicated in 7 districts of Vitebsk region (Orsha, Braslav, Glubokoye, Postavy, Shumilino districts, Novopolotsk , Vitebsk) and 6 districts of Grodno region (Iviye, Voronovo, Volkovysk, Lida, Novogrudok, Shchuchin districts).