According to a study by the National School of Public Health (ENSP), which included the participation of 1,126 immigrants of different nationalities residing in the metropolitan area of Lisbon, half of the respondents felt they did not have enough information to manage their own health and that 62% would like more support from health professionals to help them understand and manage the system.
Entitled “Health Literacy, Health Promotion and Social Cohesion in Migrant Populations”, the ENSP document from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa highlighted as major challenges for these populations the access to sufficient information to be able to make decisions, the identification of credible sources of information and the relationship with professionals in the sector.
“Thinking about health literacy means thinking about the person's life path, in a multisectoral approach, where policies and interventions are integrated to respond to people's real needs, enhancing their resources, knowledge and skills. Understanding this dynamic is fundamental for the adequacy of interventions to different profiles of health literacy”, said Sónia Dias, coordinator of the study and professor at ENSP.
Within the immigrant community, there are still inequalities in terms of health literacy that weigh, according to the document, especially on women, those over 45 years of age and those with less education or income. This reality also extends to foreigners in an irregular situation in the country and to newcomers, who display greater ignorance of the national health services.
The study did not ignore the covid-19 pandemic and also analyzed its effects on the immigrant population, confirming the worsening of inequalities and the significant impact on these people's health. One in five recognized that the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus had affected their health, with the numbers being more negative among women, the elderly, the most disadvantaged and those with more precarious migration status.
“Given the characteristics of these communities, it is urgent to think of interventions aimed at immigrants in order to bring them closer to care or, in the other sense, to bring care closer to the population. Another relevant aspect is to strengthen support for organizations that are in the field and work with these communities”, explained Sónia Dias.