M-POHL – WHO Action Network on Measuring Population and Organizational Health Literacy



The M-POHL Network was established under the umbrella of WHO Europe’s Health Information Initiative (EHII) in February 2018 with the adoption of the Vienna Statement on the Measurement of Health Literacy in Europe. M-POHL builds up on the first European Health Literacy Survey (HLS-EU) (2009-2012) which found that an average of 47% of the citizens in the 8 participating countries had limited health literacy. Subsequently, more and more countries set out to measure and improve health literacy. The WHO Solid Facts – Health Literacy (2013) therefore recommended regular internationally comparative health literacy surveys with dedicated funding to allow measuring status quo and progress.


Against this background, M-POHL aims at bringing more value to national efforts by



  • institutionalizing regular, high-quality internationally comparative surveys of population HL across Europe;

  • supporting the collection of data on organizational health literacy; and

  • providing data to support evidence-informed (policy) decisions to improve health literacy, in line with Health 2020 and other policy frameworks, including the Shanghai Declaration on promoting health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Based on a joint commitment by their ministers of health, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg and Switzerland had an initiating role in founding M-POHL. Currently, the network consists of 20 Member States of the WHO European Region: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and is open for further members. Normally, according to its Concept note, M-POHL member states participate in the network with a policy and a scientific representative.


Austria’s policy and scientific representatives are currently chairing the network for an initial term of two years, starting in 2018.

Supranational organizations and networks such as OECD and Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) participate as observers in M-POHL.


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