HealthNest by MSD - Bringing health literacy to life

HealthNest, an Initiative aiming to Improve Health Literacy in Belgium

35% of Belgians find it difficult to obtain, understand and use information related to their health. 10% feel they lack the skills to properly apprehend health related matters.

Behind these troubling figures lurks a double reality. The healthcare system developed to support our healing is increasingly complex. The (social) media messages claiming to prevent our illnesses are increasingly unverified. More than ever, the critical evaluation of health information can make the difference between life or death.

Since 2013, HealthNest has been committed to turning the trend around. HealthNest is a yearly initiative that searches, accompanies, and promotes Belgian projects in the field of health literacy, increasing awareness around them and helping them realize significant impact in the Belgian health landscape. Throughout its work, it is set on improving existing and potential patients’ skills to seek out, understand, evaluate and apply health information.1


Working collaboratively for health literacy

HealthNest is a coalition of concerned professionals and organizations committed to improve health literacy in Belgium. We help key actors and stakeholders pool together their experiences with health literacy and define what approaches have the most potential to improve the situation on the ground.

For this 2021-2022 edition, HealthNest is happy to rely on the continued and valued support of UCL Professor Stephan Van den Broucke. In his function, he chairs the HealthNest board which includes key national players from sector organizations, patient organizations, insurance funds, academia and the media.

Analyzing the health literacy landscape to direct project selection

In 2021, HealthNest created alongside its board, a dedicated task force. Its role is to first bring clarity to the complex issue of health literacy, which lies at the cross-roads of health and communication.

Through a Systems Thinking exercise, HealthNest wants to ensure the projects it supports reach their successful completion with a measurable impact on health wisdom. It also wants to accelerate sensitization around health literacy.

Supporting projects across Belgium

Previous HealthNest-supported projects include (but not only):

  • Communicare, a mobile application that connects patients and their healthcare team throughout their care journey (2019 award, University of Liege)
  • Stemmen van Hoop/ Les Voix de l'Espoir, a system of qualified intermediaries and translators to provide disadvantaged people with access to health care (award 2019, Payoke)
  • Meer gezondheid voor elk kind, access for parents and grandparents to health education and parenting support initiatives (award 2019, VZW Logo Gezond+)
  • Virology Comics, comic books about viruses and vaccination translated into several languages, aimed at families, schools, hospitals and refugee camps (2020 award, 'Cimaza')
  • E-learning for pharmacists on low health literacy, training for pharmacists on how to identify and address a lack of health literacy (2020 award, Koninklijk Oost-Vlaams Apothekersgilde - KOVAG)
  • Medication regimen (Award 2020, Koninklijk Oost-Vlaams Apothekersgilde - KOVAG)

HealthNest is an MSD initiative

Inventing for Life has been MSD's mission for over 100 years. As a global biopharmaceutical company, MSD researches, discovers and develops innovative medicines and vaccines that address major public health challenges. MSD is a trade name of Merck & Co, Inc, headquartered in Kenilworth, New Jersey, USA. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we operate in more than 140 countries to provide innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to expanding access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today MSD continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world - such as cancer, cardiometabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer's disease and infectious diseases such as COVID-19, HIV and Ebola.