The Health Education Initiative has a premise that improvement of health literacy will improve the health of all people. That is, a prerequisite for improving health is to improve knowledge about health, which can help make healthy behaviors and skills high quality and practiced universally. Health education is the first of the 15 Healthy China Initiatives, and it works at three levels — the individual/family level, the societal level, and the governmental level — indicated in shorthand by “1, 2, 7, 7”.1, 2, 7, 7”.
“1” refers to an outcome indicator of health literacy that is measured at the national level.
“2” refers to two binding targets. The first is to establish a national and provincial database of health science experts and a national resource of health knowledge, with the purpose of establishing a mechanism of health science knowledge dissemination. The second target is to establish a health education and health promotion performance evaluation mechanism for medical institutions and medical personnel.
“7” and “7” refer to the contents of each of the seven parts of the individual/family and society/government levels.
Targets of the Health Education Initiative are to achieve national health literacy levels of at least 22% by 2022 and 30% by 2030. Specific indicators are shown in Table 1.
Indices Targeted data 2020 (%) 2030 (%) National level of health literacy 22 30 Basic knowledge and conceptual literacy level 30 45 Healthy lifestyle and behavioral literacy level 18 25 Basic skills and literacy level 20 30 Basic medical literacy 20 28 Chronic disease prevention and control literacy 20 30 Infectious disease prevention and control literacy 20 25 Population blood donation rate 15 25 Proportion of departments set up in traditional Chinese medicine hospitals to treat sub-health diseases 90 100
Table 1. Major outcome indices proposed for the Health Education Initiative.
Health literacy refers to the ability of individuals to access and understand basic health information and services, and use information and services to make informed decisions to maintain and promote their own health (4). The health literacy level refers to the proportion of people achieving health literacy among the total population.
Figure 1 shows health literacy over time. In 2008, health literacy was 6.48% (5); between 2012 and 2019, health literacy increased. Literacy rose by 2.6% and 2.88% in 2016–2017 and 2017–2018, 2.11% from 2018 to 2019.
We think that rising health literacy may be related to popularization and development of the Internet in China. In 2016, fixed broadband networks and mobile communication networks - the foundation of China's communication industry - made great progress. The fully packetized fixed broadband network has been completed nationwide, and the 4G mobile communication network has been completed. China's network environment has been further optimized, as it encompasses the entire country and all cities with fiber optic networks. Currently, 72% of broadband is optical fiber, and there are over 700 million 4G users in China (6).