Your level of education can have a great influence on your health. People with a higher education live a healthier life because they eat more fruit and vegetables, smoke less and exercise more than people with a lower education. People with a low level of education have poorer language skills, which makes it more difficult for them to formulate their complaints to a doctor. And information about your health is often too complicated for people with low literacy (people who have difficulty reading and writing) and people with dyslexia; the instructions and leaflets for medicines are difficult to understand.

People with a low level of education often do work that is physically demanding or they have to work with dangerous and toxic substances. Besides the fact that the work is not good for the health, people with a low education earn less. People with a low income buy healthy (= more expensive) food much less often than people with a well-paid job.

school kssp
Kayawara Primary School in Uganda

In the Netherlands, everyone has access to good education, but in developing countries this is often not the case. The education provided is often inadequate and not accessible to everyone. Worldwide, millions of children do not go to school because there is no money for it, because there is no school nearby or because they have to help at home or work in the fields or factories. Many people only go to school for a short time and do not learn to read and write properly (illiterate). And if you are poorly educated with a low income, it is difficult to improve the quality of your life. 

In the Netherlands, highly educated people have a life expectancy of 83 years, while less educated people have a life expectancy of 77 years. A difference of six years! In various developing countries, the differences are even greater.
People with a low education not only live shorter, they also have more health problems. They are more often overweight, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The government tries to bridge the gap by disseminating information, but this mainly reaches the highly educated and not the low-literate.

Questions 1) Look closely at the picture of the Kayaware Primary School in Uganda. Which factors make learning less easy than in a Dutch school?
2) Why doesn't the information reach the low-educated? How can we ensure that it reaches the right people?
3) What can you do - besides giving information - so that more people use the medicines they need?
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