Health literacy, what is this?
Our Foundation held two meetings on Health Literacy, one in Milan on October 12 and the other in Rome on October 13, coordinated by Professor Peter Schulz, USI, Lugano, Switzerland, and Professor Michaёla Liuccio, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.
The idea to have these two meetings came up and was developed after our 2015 e-Health workshop. At that workshop two things emerged clearly: the growing importance of the internet as a source of health information and the worrying lack of knowledge regarding health in the general population. In other words, the average person navigates the internet searching for information about conditions ranging from the simplest to the most complex, without having basic skills to determine whether the information found is true and accurate and whether the source is reliable or not.
Not much discussed in Italy, but an issue that is being tackled in other countries, health literacy is just this: the ability to understand and assess the accuracy and reliability of health information.
The decision to have Patient Organisations as the initial target audience was made considering they are an increasingly valuable liaison between the medical community and patients of whom they voice needs, they are, or should be, a source of information and support for their members and for patients in general, and they are drivers of virtuous practices and synergies in the health field. The interest these organisations have shown for the initiative, their participation in the initiative and turnout at the meetings, and their request for a long-term, structured commitment in this area gave us confirmation that the choice we made was a good one.