Editorial

NWRH is launching a project to improve health literacy in the North West.

NWRH is launching a project to improve health literacy in the North West.

For space reasons I’ve had to hold over details of an important event I attended on Thursday at the Mount Isa City Council library.

The event organised by North West Remote Health in conjunction with council was a launch of a health literacy promotion (HeLP) initiative.

Health literacy is seen an essential life capacity and defined as “the degree to which people are able to access, understand, evaluate and communicate information to engage with the demands of different health contexts in order to promote and maintain good health across the life course”.

That sounds like a mouthful but can boiled down to the need to know what is important to lead a healthy life.

That might sound like common sense but as we often hear common sense is not all that common and statistics NWRH presented at the launch show only two in five Australian adults have adequate health literacy skills.

Health literacy is seen as essential for maintaining good health and improving quality of life. It leads to improved health status, increased healthcare knowledge, lower healthcare costs, less frequent use of healthcare services and shorter hospital stays.

The level of health literacy in an individual is affected by a number of characteristics: socio-economic status, disability, remote living, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, culture, language and social connectedness.

People don’t make effective decisions about their health or diet when they don’t have good health literacy or live in a poor health literacy environment.

The HeLP project has a goal of raising Mount Isa’s health literacy which is good by world standards but poor in comparison to the rest of Queensland.

Starting with a baseline survey the project aims to establish a health literacy section and information corner at the city library.

It will deliver health information and education sessions at the library and at community groups and also deliver a health eating program at schools.

I commend this important new initiative and look forward to seeing positive health outcomes for the c community. DB