Health literacy development for NCD prevention and control

Health literacy is central to preventing and controlling NCDs. It supports people, communities, and organizations in addressing NCDs and their determinants, taking meaningful action to reduce risk factors, and support health and wellbeing for all.

The final report of the GCM/NCD Global Working Group on health education and health literacy for NCDs supports countries and partners build health literacy responsive environments and interventions across countries, sectors and stakeholders.

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Beating NCDs is a health literacy challenge.

A complex mixture of economic, social, commercial, and environmental determinants contributes to the global NCD epidemic and is exacerbated by a vicious circle of multilayered health inequalities and inequities. The knowledge and competencies, daily activities, and social interactions of people and communities determine if and how they can access, understand, appraise, remember, and use health information, maintain good health, or seek care for themselves and those around them. Therefore, health literacy is a fundamental steppingstone to curb the global epidemic of NCDs, reduce modifiable risk factors and address complex determinants of health.

A globally relevant perspective of health literacy acknowledges, respects and works within local social and cultural contexts to enable meaningful activities to improve health and equity outcomes. Health literacy development consequently works to develop and implement locally relevant health policies, systems, and services that respond to people’s needs and accelerate progress in NCD prevention and control.

Report: Health Literacy Development for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases

Published in 2022, the four-volume report builds on the findings and recommendations from the WHO Global Working Group on health education and health literacy for NCDs, supported by the WHO’s Global Coordination Mechanism on NCDs GCM/NCD), in collaboration with WHO’s Health Promotion Department and the Centre for Global Health and Equity at Swinburne University, Australia. It features an introduction into health literacy development as a globally relevant perspective for NCD prevention and control, recommended actions, and a series of global case studies from WHO National Health Literacy Demonstration Projects.

Case studies from WHO National Health Literacy Demonstration Projects

Tackling diabetes in low-resource settings in Mali, supporting cardiac disease rehabilitation in Denmark, and improving breast screening awareness among culturally diverse women in Australia: Discover how health literacy development makes a difference for beating NCDs in demonstration projects in 17 countries around the world.

Discover the case studies in Volume 4

GCM/NCD working group on health education and health literacy for NCDs

The WHO Global Coordination Mechanism on NCDs hosted a dedicated working group composed of12 Member States-nominated technical experts on health education and health literacy for NCDs.

The working group’s deliberations and recommendations played a key role in moving from commitment to action by building a political case for health literacy, identifying country and context-specific target groups, and mapping of context-specific findings and best buy interventions on how health literacy approaches can accelerate national NCD responses.

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Do you have questions? Would you like to support health literacy development and related initiatives in your community, region, or country?

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