Health Literacy among general population needs immediate improvement, report says

A report by KCE, the healthcare federal knowledge centre, showed that four out of every 10 individuals in Belgium have insufficient resources to live a healthy life and are not able to improve their conditions. The subject of the report was health literacy.

Health literacy can be defined as the ability of an individual to understand, access and apply healthcare solutions to diagnose and prevent diseases and take decisions in daily life to maintain good health and improve life quality.

According to a survey carried out in eight European countries in 2015, 47 percent of the studied population has insufficient or flawed health literacy. The figures, however, ranged from 29 percent to 62 percent on an individual basis. Anyhow, the survey did not cover Belgium.

The figures shown by the KCE were based on another survey that was carried out at the end of 2019 which aimed to determine the health literacy rate in Belgium. The study by KCE also examined the policies of six countries, Austria, Ireland, Australia, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Scotland, to promote health literacy.

A research was carried out by the Christian Health Insurance fund, according to which 29 percent of studied population has limited health literacy and 11.6 percent has it insufficient. 9616 individuals were this research carried on which makes 43.1 percent of the population. These figures lie within the range of the figure shown by the 5 countries out of those six countries under survey but the rate of health literacy is far below that of our neighboring country, the Netherlands which showed a figure of only 36.4 percent of poor health literacy.

The data shows a slight variation shown by Belgium according to regions in the literacy of good health. 59 percent of its national population have enough skills, the figure is 62 percent for Flanders, 53 percent for Brussels and 49 percent for Wallonia.