Professor Peter Brooks AM is Professorial Fellow of the Centre for Health Policy School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne. At the recent Global Access Partners Summit on Education he addressed some of the major challenges for our health system.
Health education and -literacy is one of the important issues of our time – how do we cope with the tsunami of health care we need to deliver to an ageing and chronically ill population? If we are going to allow patients to engage with health professionals in a meaningful way about shared decision making for their own health then we need to educate them appropriately. We need to include health education as part of a general education of our children and we need to ensure continuing education (lifelong learning) on health issues for all.
It is quite unacceptable to have the current level of health literacy where less than 50% of Australians can read and understand the label on medications. Are we not surprised that we have such difficulty in getting patients to take their treatments long term or suffer side effects of the medications because they take them inappropriately!