Stop decline in health literacy: inquiry

After a year-long inquiry, the Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) has put forward eight recommendations to protect the public from health-related advice and products that lack scientific basis.

The panel said it was “alarmed” by the extent of false information to which consumers are exposed.

“Given the ease with which less reputable organisations can disseminate information, for example through the internet and social media, health consumers can be overwhelmed,” chairman Don Page said in the foreword to the panel’s final report presented last week.

The report said a main concern was organisations that argued against the recommended schedule of immunisations, of which the most prominent was the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN).

It also referred to products such as black salve, a corrosive ointment sold as an anti-cancer treatment, and false diagnostic tools such as full body