Investing in health literacy

Nearly half the European population is thought to have difficulty identifying, understanding and using health information. As this has real and negative health consequences, improving health literacy is a crucial step in improving people’s health. Health literacy skills are best developed early in life, which means the education sector is an important player, but it is not always easy to secure investment across sectors or to persuade the education sector to engage.

However, there is evidence that investing in health literacy in schools helps with outcomes beyond health. Some of the co-benefits include the possibility of better educational outcomes in school, leading to enhanced career opportunities and increased economic benefits for children when they reach adulthood. These co-benefits also contribute to better physical and emotional health and can be passed down to future generations.

The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies has produced a report on these co-benefits and outlines the evidence on how to secure them, in the hope this will increase support from outside the health sector and facilitate the implementation of health literacy programmes.

To download the report on the benefits of health literacy from the euro.who.int website