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World Health Day 2024

4 April 2024

by Trevor Gore, Associate Director, ICW

Sunday 7th April is World Health Day and seeks to draw attention to specific health topics of concern to people all over the world. The theme for 2024 is 'My health, My Right'. As the World Health Organisation (WHO) says "This year's theme was chosen to champion the right of everyone, everywhere to have access to quality health services, education, and information, as well as safe drinking water, clean air, good nutrition, quality housing, decent working and environmental conditions, and freedom from discrimination."

As well as being an AD at the Institute, I am also a trustee of the Self-Care Forum charity, which seeks to embed self-care into everyday life.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as "the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider". Considered as the "oldest type of care", self-care represents one of the most promising approaches to improving health and quality of life. Very much in line with this year's World Health Day theme.

However, Self-care doesn't mean no care, We recognise that all parts of any health system need to collaborate to deliver for their communities. Self-care plays out across a continuum, which starts at Daily choices and Lifestyle, moving through Self-managed ailments, minor/common ailments, onto long-term conditions and Acute conditions, finishing in Major trauma. Throughout the continuum, there needs to be collaboration between patients and, if necessary, their care providers, whether healthcare professionals or not. "No decision about me, without me" was the vision of health secretary Andrew Lansley in July 2011.

Underpinning all aspects of self-care is the concept of health literacy. The World Health Organisation defines health literacy as "...the personal characteristics and social resources needed for individuals and communities to access, understand, appraise and use information and services to make decisions about health."

Health literacy is a two-sided issue, comprising both an individual's ability to understand and use information to make decisions about their health and care, and a 'systems issue', reflecting the complexity of health information and the health care system. The coronavirus pandemic showed that even in developed countries, peoples understanding of how their own bodies work, and where to go to for credible/reliable/honest information, is not available or understood by all. Remember US President Donald Trump for suggesting research into whether the Coronavirus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body. Closer to home the 1st European comparative survey on health literacy showed at least 1 in 10 adults (12%) showed insufficient health literacy, and almost 1 in 2 (47%) had limited (insufficient or problematic) health literacy. However, this was not evenly distributed between countries, or indeed within. Age, education, low social status and financial deprivation, all play a part, and therefore it is paramount that all agencies and stakeholders, collaborate when and wherever they can to ensure people are able to access health care where need, self-care where appropriate. The figure for England showed 43%. of adults had low health literacy.

I was very lucky and honoured at the end of last year to be invited to speak at the International Pharmacy Federations (FIP) World Congress, on meaningful collaborations and partnerships. (A report of my speech is in the 11th issue of the INsight bi-monthly newsletter) where I concluded "...use other people to enhance your own expertise and to share with other people. Build sustained partnerships that have a life of their own, that people want to be a part of and that create value... We're collaborating to make the world a better place".

If you would like to know more about collaboration in the health environment or share your experiences. Please reach out to me.

CentralPoint, 45 Beech Street, Barbican, London EC2Y 8AD . Email: . Phone: 0203 691 1530
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