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Cypriot patient organisation advances health literacy in schools

The Cypriot patient organisation for rare genetic diseases “Unique Smiles”, a member of the Pancyprian Federation of Patients Associations and Friends, has made a major step towards improving health literacy in their country: the introduction of patients’ rights in the school curriculum. In his response to their request, the President of the country asked the Minister of Education to commit to bringing these changes to the school curriculum in order to make students (and their parents) more aware of their rights. The commitment is twofold: firstly, disseminating the European Charter of Patients’ Rights to all schools; and secondly, adding more emphasis to the topic of patients’ rights in the health-related courses already in the curriculum. The ministry has committed to promoting the rights referred to in existing legislation, the responsibilities of the Ombudsman for health, and the way in which complaints are dealt with.

Promotion of health literacy, a crucial aspect of patient empowerment, has always been at the heart of EPF’s work. Our commitment to patient empowerment dates back to the foundation of our organisation, with a milestone moment in 2015 – our Patient Empowerment Campaign. EPF defines empowerment as a “process that helps people gain control over their own lives and increases their capacity to act on issues that they themselves define as important”; health literacy and knowing one’s rights is a crucial part of empowerment. At the moment, EPF is also calling for future Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to commit themselves to taking action on patient empowerment in our elections campaign, so that all patients everywhere have care that is person-centred, high quality, supported by new, comprehensive EU legislation on patients’ rights.