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Health Literacy in India: A Challenge for Millions

6 mins read

Ignorance is certainly not bliss when it comes to health and well-being. We are the second most populated country with healthcare being one of India’s largest revenue and employment sectors. But still, 8 out of 10 individuals in India have low knowledge about their health. Why is health literacy in India going down the road of ignorance and misinformation?

A question we surely need to ponder upon.

First and foremost, it is important to understand what exactly learning about healthcare means? In simple words, health literacy is the ability to understand your health and the medical condition and being able to communicate your issue properly to the healthcare providers. Being educated about your health doesn’t mean learning the medical jargon and terms. It simply means being able to access and process information about your medical issue well enough to explain it properly to your healthcare provider and take well-informed decisions for your recovery. Health literacy is nothing but being responsible for your health as well as the well-being of your loved ones.

Why is health literacy so important?

Naturally, a question might have popped up in your mind – Why do I need to know about my diagnosis and treatment? Isn’t it the responsibility of my doctor to recover me from the condition?

Yes, of course, it is the responsibility of your doctor to diagnose and provide you with the right treatment for your medical condition. But being aware of your health and symptoms you are suffering from helps you to make informed and timely decisions such as – when to visit the doctor, which doctor to look out for, how to take the prescribed medications, and whether to take a second opinion or no, etc. The importance of health literacy lies at the crux of getting the right medical care at the right time.

Improving Health literacy in India is a fundamental necessity

With the pandemic going on followed by the numerous hacks and misleading health information being spread about its cure, improving healthcare awareness in India through education about health and healthcare facilities in India has become a need of the hour. It is important people listen to credible sources, understand what the disease is and take the necessary precautions as prescribed by the healthcare providers.

Apart from the pandemic, we see a lot of stereotypes floating around that add to ignorance towards healthcare. For instance, most people tend to stop taking the prescribed medications the day they start feeling better. The thing is you might feel better after a couple of days but the virus or the bacteria attacking your body isn’t fully eradicated till then. Once you stop taking medicines, it just lies dormant in your body slowly building the resistance towards the given medicines. Thus, eventually, you fall sick again with increased symptoms and rush to the doctor again. In lieu of this, understanding the importance of your prescription and taking medicines on a timely basis, can help you recover completely from the condition you are suffering.

This is where health literacy comes into the picture. Lack of healthcare knowledge can put your life in jeopardy when it can be prevented if you are responsible from the beginning. Also, learning about your diagnosis and the related treatment can help you understand where your money is going, whether the cost can be reduced and understand what is covered under your insurance claim, etc.

Now, let’s dig into some vital dos and don’ts regarding healthcare awareness:

Dos

  • Talk to your doctor and get complete information on your diagnosis and the treatment or medications prescribed.
  • Understand your prescription and clear your doubts right away if you have any.
  • Make a list of your symptoms and questions before your consultation.
  • If the doctor prescribes any tests or surgery, get thorough information about the pre-requisites for getting the test done, understand the urgency and the type of surgery, etc. In addition, research and prepare for all the things you need to do before undergoing a surgery.

Don’ts

  • Do not stall your consultation if your symptoms seem to elevate or stay for a longer period.
  • Do not hide any symptoms or other illness-related information from your doctor.
  • Do not shy away from asking questions to your healthcare provider.
  • Do not share any medical information or cures if it is not from a credible source.

All in all, we must be responsible for our own health and the well-being of our family and friends which will eventually contribute to increasing the rate of health literacy in India.

Useful links

How to Prepare for Surgery – A Patient’s Checklist

Conditions & Diseases

Second Opinion – A Second Chance to Better Treatment

Medfin offers the latest and advanced treatments for Day care procedures. In addition, we help you understand your entire medical procedure and are there with you throughout you medical journey.

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