EuroHealthNet: Addressing digital health literacy is essential to avoid widening health inequalities

4 March, 2019

(with thanks to Alberto Fernandez, lead moderator of HIFA-Spanish)

Extracts below and a question from me. Full text here:


In a step towards ensuring that the development of digital health leaves no one behind and benefits the most vulnerable, EuroHealthNet and the Portuguese Directorate-General of Health have drawn conclusions on how national public health bodies can strengthen digital health literacy following an expert meeting. The growth of digital health is rapid and unstoppable. It brings many advantages, but threatens to exacerbate existing health inequalities experienced by people who have lower levels of digital health literacy.

Digital health literacy is the ability to seek, find, understand, and appraise health information from electronic sources and apply the knowledge gained to addressing or solving a health problem[1]. People who are digitally health literate are able to have a more active role in achieving their health potential. Inclusive digital health services can lead to improved prevention, awareness of healthier lifestyle behaviours, and overall improvement in health outcomes throughout the life-course.

However, people with lower socio-economic backgrounds, people experiencing vulnerabilities, or people in old age may struggle to keep up with technological advancements...

“Improving digital health literacy must be central to all European efforts on enabling the digital transformation of health care, as well as to health promotion efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” says Caroline Costongs, EuroHealthNet Director...

EuroHealthNet is the leading Partnership for Health, Equity and Wellbeing in Europe, with key activities in policy, practice as well as research. Its unique focus is on reducing health inequalities through action on the social determinants of health, integrating sustainable development goals, and contributing to the transformation of health systems. Its main members are authorities and statutory bodies responsible for public health, health promotion and disease prevention at national, regional and local level.


Does anyone know people at EuroHealthNet? It would be good for us (HIFA) to link up with them to address digital health literacy issues in Europe and worldwide. Such issues are becoming more and more important as connectivity improves.

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: