Health literacy

Health literacy empowers people to make positive choices. It 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. Thus, health literacy means more than being able to read pamphlets and make appointments. Health literacy is an enabler that supports the promotion of equity by improving people’s access to health information, and their capacity to use it effectively.

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Top story

Croatia increases health literacy to reduce salt intake

As part of the comprehensive national health promotion project Healthy Living, Croatia has implemented measures to help people choose healthy food options and to encourage food producers to reduce the amount of salt added to foods.

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Health literacy in action

In recent years, health literacy has become an area of increasing interest for researchers and policy-makers alike.

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Facts and figures

WHO believes in an inclusive view of health literacy, broadly defining it as “the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health”.

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Inadequate health literacy is a public health challenge: according to the European Health Literacy Survey, 47.6% of the adult population in 8 countries of WHO European Region have poor or inadequate levels of health literacy.

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Get the facts, get the HPV vaccine: the personal story of an HPV vaccination advocate

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