At the 9th Global Conference on Health Promotion in Shanghai 2016, health literacy was recognized as one of the key health promotion pillars to achieve 2030 SDG Agenda. A good understanding of health literacy of people and communities can support focused investments in health development through redesign of health systems to respond to the health literacy needs of communities and through equipping individual citizens.
While the world needs to invest in ‘best buys’ to generate essential large-scale impacts on NCDs, such investments are designed for general population impacts on common problems. Often there are already effective interventions for people in the higher health literacy groups. People and communities with low health literacy, however, have the potential to be left behind through reduced access, knowledge and understanding of healthy behaviors and health opportunities, including participation in Universal Health Coverage.
New developments in health literacy approaches to understand and respond to individuals and communities will accelerate development of new interventions and/or improve the reach and impact of current interventions.
Linked to this, WHO and member states are investing in improving health literacy through several initiatives. One of these is led by WHO’s Global Coordination Mechanism for the Prevention and Control of NCDs (GCM/NCD) through its Global Working Group 3.3 on Health Education and Health Literacy for NCDs (www.who.int/global-coordination-mechanism/working-groups/working-group-3-3/en/). The Working Group generated National Health Literacy Demonstration Projects (NHLDPs) which are being implemented in LMICs and HICs to generate evidence on how health literacy can accelerate NCD intervention development, implementation and scaling-up.