Chapter 19: Promoting Health Literacy: Spread the Word!
On October 1999, Helen Osborne launched the Health Literacy Month. It has been celebrated every year since, in events large and small, all over the world. Health literacy can be promoted through a wide variety of venues, including:
- An event at the hospital
- A workshop for clinic personnel
- A librarys sharing of effective patient education materials
- An employer-sponsored health fair
Ms Osborne has written an excellent manual on the subject Health Literacy Handbook. The Event Planning Guide for Health Literacy Advocates. You can order a copy @http://www.healthliteracy.com.
Here are some suggestions on how to go about planning a health literacy promotional campaign:
Planning your promotion
If you are planning a community-based event to promote health literacy in your neighbourhood, then partnering with other organisations (such as local pharmacies, clinics, hospitals and the government primary health centre) is essential. It is important to include people from a variety of areas in your planning, including your end users: people with limited literacy skills.
What type of event should you have?
While you can host a health literacy event at any time, there may be other events going on in your area that would support your initiative and perhaps result in greater attendance or have a larger impact. If an organisation in your area is already having an event on one of the many international health awareness days such as World Heart Day or Rose Day, then it might be a great idea to simply join them!
Similarly, if a hospital is organising a free health check-up camp; or the Rotary Club is arranging a blood bank drive, you can piggy back on this by providing a booth or speaker on health literacy. This approach may be an excellent avenue for your first promotion, because in this case, you wont have to organise the whole event - just be a small and meaningful part of it.
Creating a buzz around your event
This can be quite challenging, because health literacy is not considered to be a "sexy" issue. Try roping in a celebrity as a spokesperson, so you can attract media attention. Promotion possibilities include:
- Creating flyers or posters that can be posted on community bulletin boards.
- Sending notices to community-based websites for inclusion on their event calendars.
- Creating an eye-catching graphic for your event.
- Creating press releases for local newspapers.
- Inviting the local media (radio, TV) to attend your event. Evaluating your event