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Health literacy research attracts prestigious fellowship

Improving health literacy in Tasmania and globally will be focus of University of Tasmania researcher Dr Rosie Nash as she pursues her recently announced 2021 Churchill Fellowship.

A public health lecturer with the University’s School of Medicine, Dr Nash is well known for her tireless research into improving health literacy locally and further afield.

The fellowship supports Dr Nash to explore whether health literacy is a health, community or education issue through collaborations with health literacy peers in Finland, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Manchester and at the World Health Organisation headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

The opportunity will build on insights from the HealthLit4Kids program, which Dr Nash co-founded in 2016 with Dr Shandell Elmer, to help improve health literacy among children and their communities.

Health literacy is the ability to find, use and apply information to look after our health and its absence in communities is considered a major public health issue and a barrier to good health outcomes and social equity.

The HealthLit4kids program runs in five schools around Tasmania, working to co-design the curriculum to raise awareness of health literacy amongst teachers, children, families and communities.

Ultimately HealthLit4Kids, which has been recognised by the World Health Organisation, aims to address major heath problems including heart disease, stroke, cancer and chronic lung disease – which are collectively responsible for almost 70 per cent of all deaths worldwide.

Dr Nash said she was very thankful for the fellowship and the opportunities it presented.

“I know this is a very prestigious fellowship which honours the memory of Winston Churchill, a man of great social conscience. When I look at the list of fellows that have gone before me I feel very humbled to be invited to join their company and benefit from their mentoring,” she said.

Dr Nash said the the fellowship would provide the opportunity to focus and learn more about health literacy with international peers and to further embed health literacy initiatives for children and their communities.

“The relevance of the fellowship is much broader than the HealthLit4Kids program, the insights will inform cross-sector initiatives required to improve health literacy, health outcomes and educational attainment of communities in Tasmania and globally,” Dr Nash said.

Churchill Fellowships are awarded to Australians who are innovative, filled with a spirit of determination, and who possess a strong ethos of wanting to benefit the community rather than themselves as individuals.

Published on: 12 Oct 2020 7:21am