Policy debate on empowering people to manage their health and chronic conditions

Today, EuroHealthNet organises a policy debate at the European Parliament on the best interventions for improving health literacy among older people. This debate, hosted by Mr Heinz Becker, Member of the European Parliament, is highly relevant to current and future societal challenges facing the European Union.

In the context of population ageing and economic pressures, improving older people’s knowledge and skills in healthy lifestyles, managing diseases and navigating their way through the health system, is crucial. The purpose of the policy debate is to discuss the importance of health literacy as an asset to improve healthy ageing in the European population and the potential role of the European institutions in promoting health literacy across the life cycle. “Improving health literacy will not only contribute to more efficient health and care services, but also to more empowered and independent people that can better look after their own health, which will lead to improved health outcomes and reduced inequalities” says Heinz Becker, MEP and host of the debate.

The EU FP7 Project, IROHLA - “Intervention Research on Health Literacy among ageing population” - takes stock of on-going health literacy programmes and projects. It makes use of knowledge and experience of programmes in other sectors (e.g. private and social sectors) and applies it to the health sector. The project is coordinated by the University Medical Centre Groningen and works with various partners from EU member states, amongst them the Brussels based organisations EuroHealthNet and AGE Platform Europe.

IROHLA identifies, validates and presents a set of best interventions, which together constitute a comprehensive approach to addressing the health literacy needs of the ageing population in European countries. These interventions will be part of evidence-based guidelines for policy and practice for local, regional and national government authorities. Caroline Costongs, Managing Director EuroHealthNet and chair of the debate states that “we will also need to consider how health literacy and patient empowerment can be included as part of health system performance assessments (HSPAs) alongside health equity indicators”.

The final conference of the IROHLA project will take place in Brussels on 17th November 2015. 


  • For more information about the project and the policy debate, find the programme here or contact EuroHealthNet’s Advocacy & Health Ageing Coordinator Karoline Noworyta.
  • The IROHLA website is available here.
  • Follow IROHLA on Twitter here.
  • Further information is available on EuroHealthNet’s portal on healthy ageing here.