New ‘Health Literacy Around the World’ report launches

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A new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), sponsored by Reckitt – the company behind some of the world’s most recognisable and trusted consumer brands in Hygiene, Health and Nutrition - has launched today. The findings are focused on the global state of health literacy and its policy drivers. 

‘Health literacy around the world: policy approaches to wellbeing through knowledge and empowerment’ is an independent research analysis of health literacy that looks at how health literacy can be boosted in national policy and in the education, healthcare and digital sectors.      

The report is being launched this week ahead of International Self-Care Day (Saturday 24th July).   

Key highlights of the report

The report provides a comprehensive overview of seven countries to show different levels of accomplishment in health literacy.  

Some of the key highlights from the report, include: 

  •  Addressing and improving health literacy requires action from individuals and health organisations and wider government, as well as industry and academic institutions - we all have a part to play   
  •  Health literacy improves lives, reduces health inequalities, boosts the health of future generations, allows for more patient-centric care and can even reduce healthcare costs
  •  Health literacy can create ‘herd immunity’ against misinformation and disinformation – a major issue highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic
  •  Barriers to health literacy can include socioeconomic status, access to education, language and disability barriers

 Across the healthcare, education and digital sectors, the report found that...

  • Healthcare professionals and pharmacists are key in supporting the improvement of health literacy and can play a major role in enabling self-care  
  • Schools and the broader education system provide an ideal environment to introduce health literacy programmes, but adult education can often be overlooked and more should be done to target vulnerable adult populations   
  • Digital technology can bring both opportunities and challenges – emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and wearable tech are improving engagement in health literacy and enabling self-care. With technology comes challenges relating to quantity and quality of information

Kris Licht, President, Health said: “We’ve all taken new, extraordinary steps to protect the health of our families, communities and ourselves over the past year. We’re having conversations about our physical and mental health in places we’ve not had these discussions before, which is a positive outcome of the pandemic.

“We’re also using all the tools we have available to practice self-care, which supports our stretched healthcare systems and empowers people to look after their loved ones. Increasing our understanding of how to use the resources available in order to prioritise self-care is a critical part of developing self-care capabilities, so this report from the EIU on health literacy couldn’t be better timed.”

Judy Stenmark, GSCF Director General, added: “Health Literacy is a critical enabler of self-care as it empowers people and societies to improve their health.  If self-care does not go hand in hand with health education and literacy there is the potential for incorrect self-diagnosis and missed opportunities to take the right actions at the right time, which can have serious consequences. This is an important factor for all stakeholders to understand.  

“Covid has shone a spotlight on the value of self-care and consequently the importance of a health literate global society – working together now will lead to improved consumer health outcomes and more resilient health systems.”

For more detail on health literacy and how it looks across the world today, download the full report here