Equity in healthcare
Guide to health literacy - Contributing to trust building and Equitable access to healthcare
Health literacy makes a fundamentally important contribution to safeguarding the human rights principle of equitable access to healthcare, especially when existing healthcare resources are less accessible to certain populations due to their circumstances. On this basis, in the framework of its Strategic Action Plan, the Steering Committee for Human Rights in the fields of Biomedicine and Health (CDBIO) decided to prepare a guide to health literacy for equitable access to health care in order to empower all people, including those in vulnerable situations, to be more effective advocates in accessing healthcare services and in making appropriate decisions regarding their health.
With focus on the health literacy needs of individuals and the corresponding responsibilities of health systems, the guide aims to be an informative online resource, illustrated by good practices and tools. It contributes to building trust and equitable access to healthcare by suggesting ways in which decision-makers and health providers can implement health literacy at various individual, organisational, and political levels.
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.