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October is often considered to be a time of darkening days, shifting weather, seasonal colds, and immense candy consumption. So, it has always been a primary task for the health workers to put more focus on Health Literacy Month. Now, I know what you’re thinking.

What Exactly is Health Literacy Month?

Health Literacy Month is a time for organisations and individuals to promote the importance of understandable health information. This annual, worldwide awareness-raising event has been going strong ever since Helen Osborne founded it in 1999. Health Literacy is a succinct way to convey a fundamental process of exercising agency over wellness decisions. As defined by the World Health Organization, health literacy implies a present knowledge and confidence in making a decision to improve personal and communal health.

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Health Literacy in India

Many health care organisations, government agencies, universities and institutions have organised a wide range of Health Literacy Month events. When people are health literate, they can self-advocate for their health needs or concerns. In addition, they can understand how to navigate access to medical resources, and adhere to treatment plans.

India, with a population of more than 135.26 crores (according to 2018), still lacks in severe health facilities. There are so many states which are fully sufficient with adequate resources and technology and have also developed a sound industrial base, but these areas lack in the field of health care services. There are still many states with health care that is regarded as being among the worst in the world.

Global Health Literacy

According to proper research and study, more than 40 per cent of Americans have difficulty obtaining, processing, and understanding basic health care information. Lack of healthcare literacy can cause serious problems to global healthcare efforts. Each year, October is observed as Health Literacy Month, a month dedicated to promoting the importance of health-related information.

The month advocates for free access to thousands of health education resources in up to 18 languages. I’m sure that I’m not the first to say that Coronavirus pandemic has been a cruel health literacy test for people and organisations all over the world. Now more than ever, we need to be mindful of how to make certain wellness choices and help shape our lives and our societies.

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How Health Literacy Promotes Awareness

“A healthy mind keeps the body healthy” or “A healthy body keeps the mind healthy”. Health literacy is one of the factors that lead to the acquisition of knowledge, positive attitude, self-efficacy, self-esteem, self-control, positive behaviour and better survival. It fills the individual with adequate and proper knowledge and helps to gain confidence for a better understanding of the aspects of health promotion for themselves, their families and communities. It further helps in mobilising communities to address the social, economic and environmental determinants of health.

In the Environment

Health literacy is critical to the environment. It advocates against emerging health-related threats such as climate change, pandemic influenza, communicable and non-communicable diseases. Universal Health Literacy (UHL) which more comprehensive understanding. It aims to influence not only individual lifestyle decisions but also raises community awareness of the determinants of health and encourages individual and community actions, which may lead to the modification of these determinants.

It is now necessary for many countries to gain access regarding trained staffs and increasing the expenditure on healthcare. The health sectors contribute a lot to the country’s socio-economic development and enhance the lifestyle of people.

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The theme for Health Literacy Month is “Be a Health Literacy Hero”. It’s about taking proper action and finding ways to improve health condition. Their work is to create awareness and implement the appropriate steps for improving the conditions of its country in the health sector. When the citizens of a country will be in good health, the country’s socio-economic sector will reach to the top.

Edited by: Priyanka Srinivas

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