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IHLA Statement for the WHO General Assembly

Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, health literacy has manifested itself as an essential life-saving determinant of health and of healthy behavior. COVID-19 has given rise to the COVID-19 infodemic spreading dangerous misinformation.

Inaccurate information undermines the efforts of governments, WHO, and public health authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19. Citizens and governments and other official agencies are dependent on health literacy to make the best use of available information. The epidemiological curve flattens when people can find, understand, judge and use evidence-based information regarding the risk of contracting the virus and of effective prevention, such as handwashing, social distancing, and wearing masks.

Likewise, a health literate population is more likely to successfully cope with navigating health services during an acute outbreak, including a recent shift to remote, virtual health services. When populations are health literate, they can handle the ‘infodemic,’ judging and disregarding fake news so less harm ensues. When organizations and health systems mitigate health literacy barriers, they can provide timely clear communication and promote empowerment and responsibility among the public to overcome the threat of COVID-19.

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