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Belfast Healthy Cities

Our vision is that Belfast is recognised globally
as a healthy, equitable and sustainable city

Healthy Cities 21st Century

Health Literacy Conference - empowering people

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

The conference allowed 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 literacy is ‘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 and especially Professor Nutbeam who addressed the event. Delegates at the conference will have found inspirational examples of best practice from keynote speakers from Australia and Germany.  Parallel sessions highlighted 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 and 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 in Belfast, where Belfast Healthy Cities have already been working to improve health literacy.”