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Belfast Healthy Cities

Our vision is that Belfast is recognised globally
as a healthy, equitable and sustainable city

Healthy Cities 21st Century

Health Literacy Events and Training

A Whole of Society Approach - Health Literacy Seminar

The recent draft World Health Organization (WHO) Roadmap on health literacy recommends a four level approach.  This seminar presented case studies at the four levels: policy; organisational; community and individual and explored the way forward to strengthen health literacy in Northern Ireland. 

Almost 100 participants registered to hear speakers from across the UK and Ireland.  Chaired by Dr Bernadette Cullen, the speakers included Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride; Gillian McCarroll, Ballybeen Women's Centre; Jim Phillips, Centre for Empowering Patients and Communities (CEmPaC); Helen McNamee, Community Development and Health Network; Edel Fortune, St Patrick's Mental Health Service; and Professor Gill Rowlands, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University.  Further details and speaker presentations can be found here.

Health Literacy Communication Training for Health Professionals

In 2019 Belfast Healthy Cities, in partnership with Community Development and Health Network, completed the delivery of a Health Literacy Communication Training Programme to 17 Integrated Care Partnerships across Northern Ireland through the Health and Social Care Board (HSBC) Making Every Contact Count programme. 

The training is a fundamental way to help and support health care professionals to consider a health literacy approach to ensure more effective communication of health messages.  

This programme was designed by University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) working with health care professionals across multiple disciplines from the Netherlands, Ireland and Italy as part of IROHLA (Intervention Research On Health Literacy among Ageing population) - a 3 year European health literacy project.  Delivery in Northern Ireland is through a Memorandum of Understanding between Belfast Healthy Cities and UMCG.

The Health Literacy Communication programme was targeted at those working in primary care settings across a range of provider organisations and sectors including GPs, practice nurses, practice staff, community pharmacists, community pharmacy staff and those working on the community and voluntary sector.

Following the training programme, Anne McCusker, Programme Manager, Belfast Healthy Cities said,

"Health literacy is an essential part of how patients access, understand and appraise health information and health professionals play a key role in this.  The overall aim of the programme is to enhance the knowledge and understanding of health literacy and to support the implementation of the HSCB Making Every Contact Count initiative. This is an approach to behaviour change which uses the thousands of day-to-day interactions across health and social care to support people make positive changes to their health and well-being"

4th European Health Literacy Conference

The 4th European Health Literacy Conference took place in Dublin in March 2019. 

The overarching theme for the conference was Building health literate societies and the aim was to:

  • foster knowledge transfer between researchers, practitioners and policymakers regarding the creation of health literate societies 

  • promote evidence-based actions and practices regarding health literacy and society

  • promote health literacy to reduce inequality in health within society

Anne McCusker, Programme Manager, Belfast Healthy Cities was invited to participate in the expert panel in the plenary debate on ‘how to build health literate societies’. This session also included contributions from representatives from Austria; Ireland; Finland; USA; and World Health Organization.

5th Health Literacy UK Conference

Hosted by Belfast for the first time, the 5th Health Literacy Conference 'Making Life Better' welcomed over 100 partipcants from across the UK and Ireland.  Professor Don Nutbeam, Professor of Public Health in Sydney, Australia provided the keynote address.  The conference also allowed delegates to share current health literacy thinking, practice and research from across the UK and Europe as well as providing a networking opportunity with key experts in health literacy.  More information here.

Presentations from the conference can be found on the UK Health Literacy website.

Introduction to health literacy

This half day workshop developed by Belfast Healthy Cities; explores the definition of health literacy, the link between health literacy and inequalities and highlights tools and techniques to include health literacy in policy and practice.

To find out more information or participate in the training programmes please contact 

Capacity Building

Belfast Healthy Cities have hosted a number of capacity building seminars at which speakers from Northern Ireland, Ireland, UK and across Europe have provided examples of health literacy programmes.