Low health literacy is a challenge affecting large segments of the population, data from a new project in the WHO European Region show. Since 2019, the WHO Action Network on Measuring Population and Organizational Health Literacy (M-POHL) has been conducting a cross-national survey in 17 countries to create comparative data on health literacy levels in order to build a strong foundation for future action. The results, which show that between 25% and 75% of adult populations in participating countries have limited health literacy, reveal a pressing challenge to public health.
Based the findings of the survey, M-POHL made recommendations for countries at the health-system level as well as at organizational and individual levels. These include providing accessible and high-quality information, improving communication between patients and health-care professionals, and reducing social and financial inequalities. The full report is expected to be published in November 2021. It will also be discussed at a virtual launch event on 8 November 2021, organized by the Austrian Government and M-POHL.