REPORT: HLCA at the 22nd International Union of Health Promotion and Education World Conference on Health Promotion in Curitiba, Brazil

Health literacy researchers, Janine Bröder and Orkan Okan have attended the 22nd International Union of Health Promotion and Education World Conference on Health Promotion. They presented two posters, one oral presentation, and organized a symposium on child and youth health literacy with international partners from Denmark, Canada, and Portugal. Janine, participated in a health literacy discussion group on building capacity and sharing knowledge in health literacy, and Orkan led, together with Evelyn McElhinney from Scotland, a discussion group on health literacy across the life span. Further, with partners from Portugal another presentation within a discussion circle was accepted on adolescent’s concept of health literacy.

Additionally, they participated in three pre-conferences on health literacy. The first pre-conference they attended was the preconference on “Taking the Global Health Literacy Agenda into Portuguese speaking communities” organized by Luis Saboga-Nunes, advisor to the HLCA research consortium, together with the South American health literacy group. Kristine Sørensen and Diane Levin-Zamir gave short introductions to past health literacy research in Europe. In the “Diabetes Literacy: Integrating Health Literacy and Health Systems Change In Diabetes Self-Management Education” pre-conference, Stephan van den Broucke reported on the results and experiences his group made during their research. The last pre-conference was implemented as a workshop on health literacy organized by the Global Working Group on Health Litercay (IUHPE GWG-HL) titled “Taking the Global Health Literacy Agenda Forward for Health Promotion – From Position Paper to Action.” The aim of this pre-conference was to improve the working group’s collaboration among the members, to introduce health literacy activities around the world the members are engaged with, and to develop contents for the GWG-HL position paper by discussion groups on:

  • Identifying and engaging relevant stakeholders for collaborative health literacy action, research and policy
  • Health literacy as a community-based consumer education and empowerment process
  • Funding, producing and promoting research to contribute to the evidence base
  • Building capacity and sharing knowledge
  • Ensuring the inclusion of health literacy in global, national and regional discussions on health promotion and social determinants of health
  • Health literacy across the life span.

The IUHPE conference was rich on health literacy presentations. There have been two poster walks, several further poster presentations in physical and digital formats, sessions on community approaches to health literacy, on the health literacy toolkit, on workforce capacity development for improving professional health literacy skills and needs, two sub plenaries on health literacy in policies, and improving health literacy across low-, middle- and high-income countries, a conversation circle towards an international perspective on health literacy, and a lot more presentations, discussions, posters, and cross referencing to health literacy all across the conference. Unfortunately not all health literacy activities could be attended as there were some conflicting schedules.

Summarizing the conference towards health literacy, we understand that health literacy is given high priority in the global setting not only at IUHPE but at WHO, UN, and further NGO and governmental organisations and health promotion activities across the countries. While in the conference opening session the importance of children to processes of health promotion and for sustainably improving health equity was highlighted prominently, during the closing session of the conference, health literacy received a prominent place in the conference summary. It can be expected that health literacy will be a priority area again at the 23th IUHPE conference 2019 in New Zealand.