‘Only half of Iranians have good health literacy’

June 24, 2019 - 12:15

TEHRAN – Only 50 percent of Iranians have good health literacy, the secretary of the 7th Symposium and the 4th National Self-care and Patient Training Festival announced, Mehr reported on Sunday.

Health literacy implies the achievement of a level of knowledge, personal skills and confidence to take action to improve personal and community health by changing personal lifestyles and living conditions.

Abdolrahman Rostamian said that the health literacy will be improved through development of self-care nationwide.

Social health is rooted in self-care, which is one of the most cost-efficient and beneficial methods to cope with diseases in a society, he explained.

“Statistics show that more activities should be done in order to improve health literacy in the society.”

“For example, Iranians do not have enough physical activities and lack healthy diet and unfortunately risky behaviors like smoking are predominant in the society,” he lamented.

In February, the health ministry announced that the prevalence of insufficient physical activity is about 57 percent in Iran and some 300,000 Iranians die of noncommunicable diseases annually.

The 7th Symposium and the 4th National Self-care and Patient Training Festival will be held on July 24 to commemorate International Self-Care Day which provides a focus and opportunity to raise the profile of healthy lifestyle self-care programs around the world.

How can we increase health literacy?

Improving health literacy in populations provides the foundation on which citizens are enabled to play an active role in improving their own health, engage successfully with community action for health, and push governments to meet their responsibilities in addressing health and health equity, according to World Health Organization’s website.

The ambition of Agenda 2030 requires a new way of working, bringing together a range of multi-disciplinary stakeholders in a global partnership. Examples of roles for stakeholders in advancing health literacy and the SDGs include:

  •  Government

Develop policies and plans on health literacy promotion, including sustained funding, systematic intervention and surveillance; work across sectors for win-wins and meet obligations to provide people with accurate, up to date information that is unbiased by undue influence from outside the health sector.

  • Civil society

Work together to bring different expertise, experiences and capacities for community-based communication and health literacy efforts in all kinds of settings throughout the life course.

  •  Media (including social media)

Serve as a critical platform for health literacy messaging, harnessing the idealism and enthusiasm of youth, and meeting an ethical threshold for accuracy to support, rather than subvert, people’s right to health.

  • Community leaders

Provide risk communication, particularly during times of crisis, as seen recently in the response to Ebola and Zika. WHO’s Framework for Country Action across Sectors for Health and Health Equity recognizes the importance of “training leaders in techniques to support and enable an informed community.”

  •  Research and academic institutions

Develop and improve methods to measure health literacy, collate and distribute examples of best practice in health literacy intervention development, and provide evidence of what works, in which contexts, and why.


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