Public health literacy in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic emergency [Alfabetización en salud pública ante la emergencia de la pandemia por Covid-19]

Lazcano-Ponce E.,
Alpuche-Aranda C.
Document Type
Source Title
Salud Publica de Mexico
Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica


Health literacy is the process of obtaining knowledge, motivation and individual competencies to understand and access information, express opinions and make decisions with respect to health promotion and maintenance. This applies in different contexts, environments, and throughout life. This conceptual perspective is very necessary in the face of the SARS-CoV-2 virus emergency. This virus produces the Covid-19 disease, which has become a pandemic of devastating effects not only healthwise, but also, importantly, from an economic, political and social point of view. This essay seeks to establish the scientific evidence-based elements that guide public policies for prevention and control. Some of these elements are: a) epidemiologic intelligence. This includes not only the strategy of public surveillance, but also sentinel and event-based surveillance, as it is impossible to actually identify all positive cases; b) Mitigating measures against the spread of the epidemic, such as social distancing and hygiene, washing hands, quarantine, restricting movement and using masks, among others; c) Measures to suppress transmission when the number of cases is very high, such as strict measures to stay at home; d) strengthening health services 'capacity for medical attention and improving health services' ability to prevent transmission, including the use of diagnostic tests; e) the development of prophylactic vaccines against Covid-19, as well as the development of therapeutic agents. All of these actions must be rapidly implemented, from a multidisciplinary and multisectorial public health perspective, and they absolutely must also be taken with the community's participation as shared responsibility. Therefore, public health literacy is needed. © 2020, Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica.

Migration angle
Region/Country (by coverage)
Index Keywords

Betacoronavirus; coronavirus disease 2019; Coronavirus infection; genetics; hand washing; health literacy; health survey; human; laboratory technique; mask; pandemic; personal space; procedures; public health; sentinel surveillance; Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; social isolation; symptom assessment; virus pneumonia; Betacoronavirus; Clinical Laboratory Techniques; Coronavirus Infections; Hand Hygiene; Health Literacy; Humans; Masks; Pandemics; Personal Space; Pneumonia, Viral; Population Surveillance; Public Health; Sentinel Surveillance; Social Isolation; Symptom Assessment