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WHO: Health literacy as a lever to prevent and control NCDs – workshop in Portugal

January 17 - January 18

WHO/Europe and a group of Member States have organized a workshop for developing, implementing and evaluating health literacy initiatives across the WHO European Region to support the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

In Europe, countries are being called upon to scale up their efforts to build and support health literacy. The Region is now well on its way to achieving its target of reducing premature mortality from NCDs by 2025, but more work is needed.

The WHO European Action Network on Health Literacy for Prevention and Control of NCDs, currently being established, will be instrumental in building peoples’ individual and collective capacity to become informed participants in health decision-making and in enabling real progress towards beating NCDs.

The work of the European Action Network will be based on global and national health literacy experience. It will support demonstration projects from countries in the Region as well as experience-sharing to improve efforts to fight NCDs and strengthen mental health throughout the life-course in different settings.

WHO recognizes that health literacy is one of the key health promotion pillars for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. More specifically, building health literacy supports Members States’ work to reach Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.4, which aims to reduce NCD mortality by one third.

A number of recent political declarations have underscored the critical and growing importance of health literacy. In 2016, the Shanghai Declaration stressed that health literacy is a critical determinant of health, and highlighted the importance of empowering individual citizens and enabling active engagement in collective health promotion action.

Health 2020, the European policy framework supporting action across government and society for health and well-being, also includes actions on improving health literacy.

The objectives of the Lisbon workshop are to:

  • strengthen common understanding of health literacy concepts related to individual, community and organizational health literacy; of health literacy responsiveness and its contribution to NCD prevention and control; and of strategies and tools for the application of health literacy;
  • enhance understanding of how health literacy interventions are contributing to regional and global health agendas, especially the achievement of the SDGs and NCD-related targets across the life-course, and outline areas for improvement;
  • conduct a training for the development of a health literacy demonstration project on NCDs at the country level to strengthen the relevant country capacities;
  • discuss the development of a European roadmap for implementing health literacy initiatives throughout the life-course; and
  • launch and discuss settings of the European Action Network in order to create a community of practice, to accelerate learning and to scale up health literacy-informed interventions at the country level.