The 6th Annual Conference of the Asian Health Literacy Association, held this year in Taichung.-Prof. Diane Levin-Zamir (Scientific Advisor to AHLA)
The 6th Annual Conference of the Asian Health Literacy Association, held this year in Taichung, Taiwan was one of the best ever. Lasting only 2 short days + a half a day for a pre-conference, the scientific program was outstanding and included presentations from a wide variety of countries and disciplines from Asia and around the world.
There were many highlights of the conference. The welcoming addresses by strategic partners, local and world dignitaries as well as the dance performance by youth dancers set the stage for the superb scientific programme.
The scientific programme included current state-of-the-art research conducted throughout Asia and other parts of the world. The keynote presentations highlighted the topics of health literacy as a human right and the key role that it plays in health systems and in the community. The parallel sessions included well over a hundred studies on health literacy from a wide variety of perspectives: health literacy across the lifespan, from maternal literacy to health literacy among the aging population, and all ages in between including health literacy in the work place. Research in health literacy in a wide variety of chronic diseases was presented as well as in the area of oral health, patient-provider communication and developing capacities of the workforce in health literacy. Health literacy as a social movement and national health literacy action plans were presented as an example for others to follow suit.
During the lunch and coffee breaks, the participants were invited to view research presented through posters, extending even further, the scope of the studies conducted in the region and beyond.
The General Assembly attended by AHLA members and advisors was highly productive in which further plans for AHLA were discussed and approved, including the next AHLA leadership, conferences and network seminars.
The social programme included a sumptuous gala dinner with local delicacies. During the event, not only were the participants exposed to local folk dance tradition, performed by youth dancers, but also the participants were encouraged and invited to perform songs and dances from their countries, welcoming anyone and everyone to join in.
The conference organizers did not forget to include the media in their list of those involved. The Conference received publicity and visibility in the Taiwanese media and tremendous exposure through social media – particularly Facebook and Twitter. Throughout the conference, students also interviewed keynote speakers and experts which were broadcast throughout the conference exhibition hall.
One of the inspiring facets of the conference that is particularly worth mentioning was the intense involvement of medical student volunteers in the organization and running of the conference. They were present every step of the way to ease the tasks of the speakers and participants – escorting in the airport, hotels and train stations, supporting the technology throughout the conference, answering logistic questions and doing so as pleasant as can be. In speaking with them I found them inquisitive, kind, and incredibly responsible and respectful.
In short, the incredible progress that has been made in Asia over just 6 + years in health literacy research, action and policy truly was evident in the Conference. It will be exciting and rewarding to see the future contributions of AHLA to health literacy in Asia and around the globe.
Finally, I am sure that all involved join me in sincerely thanking Prof. Peter Chang, and Prof. Terrence Ming-Che Tsai and all those who invested their time and expertise in making this conference so successful.
Prof. Diane Levin-Zamir, PhD, MPH, MCHES (Scientific Advisor to AHLA)
Associate Professor, University of Haifa School of Public Health, Israel
National Director, Department of Health Education and Promotion, Clalit Health Services, Israel
IUHPE Global Working Group on Health Literacy co-convener
Nov. 3, 2018