Equity in healthcare
Developing a Guide to health literacy for persons in vulnerable situations in order to empower them to access health care of appropriate quality on an equitable basis with other groups in society
It has been well documented that older persons experience difficulties in exercising their right to access health care services but this is a concern which applies to a broader scope of “persons in vulnerable situations” and therefore potentially anybody not necessarily belonging to an identified group nor being a patient.
This has become even more challenging as a result of the emergence of innovative treatments and new healthcare technologies that are very expensive and may require specific knowledge and skills to obtain. At the same time, established practices in healthcare have become more patient-centred and attentive to human rights, in a way that increasingly recognises the rights and decision-making capacity of persons in vulnerable situations. To this end, it is essential that they understand health information and know what healthcare services are available and how best to access them. In response to this need, the Committee on Bioethics intends to prepare a Guide to health literacy for equitable access to healthcare in order to empower them to be more effective advocates in accessing healthcare services and in making appropriate decisions regarding their health.
Combating health disparities created by social and demographic changes in Council of Europe member States
There is concern that existing healthcare resources are less accessible to certain patient populations because of their particular social circumstances which can make it a challenge for them to access, for example, valid health information and appropriate care. More specifically, the issue of equitable access to healthcare for persons in vulnerable situations is an enduring challenge for member states. For instance, access to clinical trials and innovative treatments and healthcare technologies often depends on information found on the internet and social media which may be more difficult for them to glean. Combating such health disparities is therefore important, for instance by making healthcare services and resources more accessible and by training healthcare professionals to ascertain their level of health literacy and capacity to participate in decision-making.
- Set up a drafting group
Prepare the guide to health literacy for equitable access to healthcare.