7AHLA Conference: Recap

7AHLA Conference: Recap
Written by AHLA Assistant Allegra Kurtz-Rossi/AHLA ASG Tara Chen 
This year's AHLA 7th Health Literacy Conference took place 10 - 12 November 2019 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was a great honor to have the Thu Doc hospital host and organize the conference. This is AHLA's 3rd conference in Vietnam. It's incredible to see how far the organization has grown in the Asian regions. The theme of this year’s conference was “Health Literacy in Smart Universal Healthcare". emphasizing the importance of growing technology and digital influences, attracting over 300 delegates from around the world. Participants came from a wide geographical spread from New Zealand to Bhutan, to discuss and explore current research and trends in health literacy. By creating this annual platform for people from all over the world come together and share their work and ideas, AHLA can help give participants the tools they need to address health literacy problems in their communities.              
AHLA Conference participants from all over the world come together to share research and discuss best practices  
The pre-conference workshops were very well attended, and people experienced valuable learning and discussions at workshops on Health Literate Healthcare Organizations, Health Literacy Policy and Advocacy, and Digital Health Literacy and Innovation. People need to be able to access, read, understand, and evaluate health information in order to take action. “By working together to raise health literacy for both doctors and patients and improving communication we will improve the health care people receive,” said Profs Tsai and Kurtz-Rossi. The pre-conference was a huge success with large crowds in each session, excited to apply health literacy in a hands-on format. After the workshops many guests went on a city tour where they visited Independence Palace and other historic sites. 

The 7AHLA was officially opened by the Deputy Minister of Health (Vietnam), Dr. Nguyen Truong Son who emphasized her own stories of clinical practice with vulnerable populations, and the importance of advancing health literacy. Other speakers included Dr. Nguyen Minh Quan (President of the 7th AHLA Conference), Prof. Peter Chang (President of AHLA), Dr. Kristine Sorensen (President of IHLA), Dr. Stephan Van De Brouke (VP of International Union for Health Promotion and Education), and Dr. Yuan-Kun Tu (Superintendent of E-DA Healthcare Group). The 7AHLA incorporated aspects of the conference theme in their cultural performances as well. Many delegates remarked about the engaging sessions, noting fruitful discussions and networking opportunities in the advancement of health literacy.

The opening ceremony also recognized AHLA achievements from country offices and young professionals:

Mongolia (New Public Health Association): Dulmasuren Samdan
Bangladesh (Somadder Welfare Foundation): Dr. Natasha Khurshid
Philippines (University of Philippines): Ma. Carmen C. Tolabing
Hong Kong (Hong Kong Polytechnic University): Dr. Angela Yeeman Leung & Adwoa Owusuaa Koduah

2019 Yufong International Health Literacy Award  
Enny Rachmani (Universitas Dian Nuswantoro Semarang, Indonesia)

The 7AHLA also hosted a press conference with Vietnamese media. AHLA President, Prof. Peter Chang, talked about how many patients with low health literacy go back to the doctors when they are sick because they do not understand the disease process and how treatments work. Prof. Stephan Van de Brouke further discussed how low health literacy leads to insufficient use of health services, costing the healthcare system and society money and lives. AHLA Vice-President, Prof. Tuyen Van Duong talked about the importance of health literacy research in advancing the field. Improved health literacy for all will reduce medical errors, improve quality of care, and reduce costs. 
AHLA also held their annual General Assembly which concluded with several important news. The 8AHLA Conference will be organized by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) in India, but it will be postponed until 2021. The decision was made after the E-DA Healthcare Group | I-Shou University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan won the bid to host the first Global Health Literacy Summit through the International Health Literacy Association (IHLA). AHLA will designate a time to hold a general assembly during the summit. It is important to note that AHLA members will be hosting elections next year for Presidency. In other news, M-POHL was discussed by Deputy-Secretary General Ru-Yi Huang who partook in the last European meeting as an observer status. AHLA regions are considering learning more about the study protocol to measure population health literacy levels in Asia. For those interested, you may contact us through the website for more details.
There were over 60 health literacy presentations on the first day of the conference by people from more than 20 countries. Topics included health literacy and aging, health literacy in media and health literacy and non-communicable diseases to name just areas of focus. AHLA is proud to be an international organization where students, professors, and medical professionals come together to learn from one another. 
Thu Doc Hospital was a great social host through the city tours and the gala dinner. Many of the delegates were having a great time singing and learning about the Vietnamese culture through various dancing activities throughout the night. The environment was filled with lots of laughter and delicious food.

The second day discussed topics such as health literacy in health promotion, integrated care in hospitals, translational research in maternal child health, and initiatives on WHO M-POL and beyond. IHLA also held an open forum with E-DA Healthcare Group|I-Shou University to discuss the Global Health Literacy Summit 2020- for more information on IHLA: The conference concluded with an invitation for participants to join IHLA interest groups and to attend the first Global Health Literacy Summit 26 - 28 October 2020 in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan hosted by E-DA Healthcare Group | I-Shou University.
AHLA would also like to congratulate the winners of 7AHLA:

Best Oral:
Linh Huynh Ba Phuong (Lieu Clue District Medical Center, Vietnam)
Adwoa Owusuaa Koduah (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)
Nguyen Ngoc Khanh (Ha Noi Medical University,Vietnam)

Best Poster:
Hoang Yen Nhi (Ha Noi Medical University, Vietnam)
Luong Thanh Bao Yen (Hui University of Medicine & Pharmacy, Vietnam)
Jerico H. Bajador (University of the Philippine, Philppine)

AHLA would like to thank the 7AHLA Secretariat team at Thu Duc Hospital for their hardwork and working closely with Dr. Duong Van Tuyen (Vice-President of AHLA) and Prof. Peter Chang (President of AHLA). AHLA would also like to thank all their sponsors for supporting the 7AHLA Conference. Although the closing ceremony was filled with sad smiles and warm hearts, we know that it will not be long until we meet again at the Global Health Literacy Summit in Oct. 26-28th, 2020 or at the 8AHLA in India, 2021!

For those interested in the Conference book, it can be found here: / upload / files / Conference% 20book-7AHLA2019 (1 ) .pdf