Irish Heart Foundation brings health literacy to global stage

By June Shannon Policy News   |   14th Dec 2021

Irish Heart Foundation to address WHO Global Conference on Health Promotion

The Irish Heart Foundation has been invited to speak at the World Health Organisation (WHO) 10th Global Conference on Health Promotion which is due to take place this week ( 13-15 December).

Ms Janis Morrissey, Director of Health Promotion, Information and Training at the Irish Heart Foundation will address the 10th Global Conference on Health Promotion: Health Promotion for Well-being, Equity and Sustainable Development on the Irish Heart Foundation’s health literacy project. This innovative project is a registered World Health Organisation (WHO) National Health Literacy Demonstration Project (NHLDP) and the first such project to focus on primary prevention and young people.

Good health literacy means being able to find, understand, appraise and apply health information. It has also been recognised as a determinant of health in its own right and as a life skill for everyone not just those living with a health condition.

Research has also shown that making health information more widely available and in a manner that is easily understood, is key to reducing health inequality.

The Irish Heart Foundation is leading the way in co-designing a health literacy programme for post primary schools . The only WHO NHLDP project working with young people in schools, this project focuses on creating a supportive environment for health literacy in schools targeting health inequalities.  The IHF children and young people team is developing a  programme that sits inside the Wellbeing framework for schools and is tailored to the needs of DEIS schools.

In partnership with researchers in University College Dublin (UCD) the Irish Heart Foundation’s health literacy project will also measure levels of health literacy in post-primary school students and, with the support of experts in Dublin City University, develop an out of school ‘Lifelab’ intervention to improve health literacy levels.

" Our health literacy project is unique in being led by an NGO, with a focus on young people and health promotion,"

Janis Morrissey, Director of Health Promotion, Information and Training, The Irish Heart Foundation

The Irish Heart Foundation are specialists in adolescent health promotion and working with young people, school staff and parents to create a bespoke intervention that supports schools to develop health literacy for the school community.

The charity is also currently working with a number of post primary schools in underserved communities to understand their unique needs and begin to co-design innovative solutions.

Commenting Ms Morrissey said, “The Irish Heart Foundation is honoured to be invited to showcase our work at such a high-level event. Our health literacy project is unique in being led by an NGO, with a focus on young people and health promotion and builds upon our longstanding work in schools. We are excited to place the voice of young people in underserved communities at the centre of every stage of development and build a fit for purpose intervention that responds to their needs.

The WHO global conference will address how health promotion can advance well-being and participants will discuss the contribution that health promotion can make to people’s and societies’ well-being. They will address such contributions with regard to key components of well-being. Discussions will be organized around broad areas of people, planet and prosperity.

The conference will offer an opportunity to present successful country examples that health promotion action has achieved regarding the shift to good governance for health and well-being; and how this contributed to overhaul public health challenges and paved the way to building forward using health promotion approaches.

At the end of the conference, participants will issue a political statement with key requirements for governments to adopt and adapt an expanded health promotion approach to advance well-being.

Registration for the WHO conference is now open at


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health literacy Health Promotion WHO young people

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