Premier Willies Mchunu on World Hospital Congress

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu has called on more than 600 health professionals, policy formulators, pharmaceutical companies, financial institutions and representatives of governments and private sector from 40 countries attending the 40th World Hospital Congress to work with KZN to assist in the implementation of National Health Insurance.

Critically, Mchunu spoke out strongly against health illiteracy and challenged all delegates to assist KZN government to create a health literate society. He was speaking during the opening ceremony of the congress currently underway at the ICC in Durban.

He pointed out: I have often stated in various platforms that various forms of preventable diseases continue to undermine the health and quality of life of many people in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of health illiteracy.

Currently the status of health literacy in KZN falls short of the ideal. Many people do not have the skills required to obtain, understand and act on health information and services. Nor do they have the ability to make appropriate health decisions on their own.

Those who endure the greatest struggles with low health literacy skills are most often older adults and people with lower levels of education.

The implications for these more vulnerable groups is that limited health literacy often correlates with a lack of ability to effectively self-manage health, access health services, understand available and relevant information, and make informed health-related decisions.

Given that chronic ill-health is the leading cause of death in South Africa, the positive health and lifestyle implications for health literacy are potentially far-reaching.

I am hopeful that this congress will assist all of us to work together and share ideas on how to create a health society in our respective countries. To be health literate is to be able to access and understand the information required to manage one's health on a day-to-day basis.

Ideally, a health-literate individual is able to seek and assess the health information required to understand and carry out instructions for self-care, including the administering of complex daily medical regimens.

As the province of KwaZulu-Natal we want an individual member of society to be empowered with information in order to plan and achieve the lifestyle adjustments required for improved health.

At all times, our people must be able to make informed positive health-related decisions. A person must know when to access health care when necessary.

Source: Government of South Africa