Health Literacy: A Key Attribute for Urban Settings

Health Literacy: A Key Attribute for Urban Settings

Kristine Sørensen (Global Health Literacy Academy, Denmark)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4074-8.ch001
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Urbanization is one of the leading global trends of the twenty-first century impacting health. By 2050, over 70% of the world's population will live in cities facing health opportunities as well as challenges. Health literacy is a key attribute for urban settings entailing the knowledge, motivation, and competencies of citizens to access, understand, appraise, and apply information to manage health and interact with services related to health and wellbeing. Health literate citizens are an asset for communities and the cities at large and the investment in health literacy helps saving time, saving money, and saving lives. The health literacy agenda of the healthy cities network is introduced and examples are provided on how various healthy cities have implemented actions. Finally, recommendations are provided on how to create health literate settings.
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Health literacy is about rights, access, and transparency. It is about a new form of health citizenship, in which citizens take personal responsibility for health and become involved as citizens in social and political processes that address the root causes of health inequalities as well as inequalities in access to care. – Ilona Kickbusch



The good health of all its citizens is one of the most effective indicators of any city’s sustainable development. According to the World Health Organization, healthy cities are environmentally sustainable and resilient. Cities with clean air, energy-efficient infrastructure, and widely accessible green spaces can attract more investment and businesses, create more jobs, and offer more opportunity to people from all walks of life. Healthy cities are socially inclusive being places where planning and policy-making can incorporate the views, voices, and needs of all communities. Health is not only an indicator for monitoring progress but a fundamental driver of sustainable development (World Health Organization, 2016b). Where people live affects their health and chances of leading flourishing lives. Hence, communities and neighborhoods that ensure access to basic goods, that are socially cohesive, that are designed to promote good physical and psychological wellbeing, and that are protective of the natural environment are essential for health equity (Marmot, Friel, Bell, Houweling, & Taylor, 2008).

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