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Health literacy

Poor people are more ignorant about basic health facts than their financially well off counterparts.
PTI | By Asian News International, London
PUBLISHED ON AUG 07, 2004 05:23 PM IST

According to a new report poor people are comparatively more ignorant about basic health facts than their financially well off counterparts.

A report prepared by the National Consumer Council (NCC) showed that improved health literacy is the only way to bridge inequalities between the rich and the poor. According to the council it is essential to build on people's knowledge, skills and confidence in managing their own health.

"When we asked people how interested and involved they were in their own health, and how they go about getting information about health problems, we were surprised to discover that even among higher income groups there is a sizeable health literacy gap," Ed Mayo, chief executive of the NCC was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.

The NCC report also highlights the fact that most people are hesitant to ask doctors to interpret medical jargon and some health professionals further deter them from getting information, by appearing too busy to answer questions.

The report stressed that information should be available in plain language and when and how patients want it.

"Bilingual staff and trained interpreters must be on hand for people with limited English," Mayo said.

"An increase in health literacy will increase people's capacity to take more control over their own health and their own lives," he added.

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