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Health Literacy Conference - empowering people

16th February 2018

Over one hundred community and health professionals from across the UK and Ireland are attending the 5th Health Literacy UK Conference which for the first time takes place in Belfast. The event in Riddel Hall, Queen’s University includes some of the leading world experts on health literacy, Professor Don Nutbeam, Professor of Public Health in Sydney, Australia will provide the keynote address.

The conference allows delegates to share current health literacy thinking, practice and research from across the UK and Europe as well as providing a networking opportunity with key experts in health literacy.

The World Health Organization has said health literacyis ‘linked to literacy and entails people’s knowledge, motivation and competences to access, understand, appraise and apply health information in disease prevention and health promotion.’ In practice health literacy can be as simple as understanding a prescription or instructions on a medicine package, accessing and understanding health promotion messages as well as increasing understanding the impact of many sectors actions on people’s health.

Joan Devlin, Chief Executive of Belfast Healthy Cities said, "We are delighted to welcome the Health Literacy UK Conference in Belfast today and especially Professor Nutbeam who is here to address the event. Delegates at the conference will find inspirational example of best practice from keynote speakers from Australia and Germany. Parallel sessions highlight learning through practice from across Northern Ireland, UK and Ireland. Community Planning presents a unique opportunity to develop collaborative programmes on health literacy across local government, as highlighted in a number of community plans.”

Prof Nutbeam added: "Right across the globe we are seeing an increased need to improve health literacy as a means of improving health outcomes. Those working in the health and community sectors must be equipped to engage with populations to empower people to make health related decisions in various settings including at home, in hospitals, in health centres and in the community. The Health Literacy UK Conference is an opportunity to find out about the emerging research and best practices delivering positive results. I am delighted to be here in Belfast, where Belfast Healthy Cities have already been working to improve health literacy.

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