We take a look at the importance of World Health Day, the annual celebration of the World Health Organization.
Each year April 7 marks the World Health Day. This year the world celebrates with the theme: “Building a fairer, healthier world”.
This date marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948, and is annually observed aiming to create an awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for people’s health conditions.
World Health Day History in a Nutshell
Over the past 50 years this date has brought to light essential health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change.
WHO clarifies that it marks the celebration by activities, which extend beyond the day itself, and serve as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.
According to the same source, the First World Health Assembly, held in 1948, asked to institute a World Health Day to raise global awareness on particular themes related to health in order to highlight an area of importance for the WHO and its work focus.
As a result, since 1950, we have celebrated the World Health Day on April 7 every year. The WHO uses the day to mark the launch of a long-term programme, in relation to which activities are undertaken and resources are provided and expanded much beyond the date.
2021 Theme – Building a Fairer, Healthier World
As many other themes of international days, this one too, is related, but not limited, to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more people into difficulties, amplifying, among other, health inequalities and lack of access to health services and health insurances.
Hence, activists around the world are calling for action to eliminate health inequities, as part of a year-long global campaign to bring people together to build a fairer, healthier world.
The campaign highlights WHO’s constitutional principle that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”
This reminds us the world unfortunately is still an unequal place. The environments we live and work in sometimes make it even harder for some people to reach their full potential. Health inequities are not only unjust, but they also threaten the advances made to date, and have the potential to widen rather than narrow equity gaps.
However, WHO emphasizes that health inequities are preventable with strategies that place greater attention on improving health equity, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.
While mentioning that COVID-19 has hit all countries hard, its impact has been harshest on those communities which were already vulnerable, who are more exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality health care services and more likely to experience adverse consequences because of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.
Therefore, relevant actors today are calling on leaders to ensure that communities are at the forefront in decision-making processes as we move forward to a new future, and that everyone has living and working conditions that are conducive to good health.
They urge leaders to monitor health inequities, and to ensure that all people can access quality health services depending on their needs and values within their communities.
Join in the Celebration
Now that we have in mind this worrisome situation, it seems hard to find reasons to celebrate, let alone celebrate.
However, this is exactly why we should not let this date slip without a proper dedication and celebration.
It is important to stick to its importance and for each of us to play our roles within our communities toward improving health conditions for all.
Below you can find a few simple things you can do to celebrate this day:
- Check your knowledge of healthy habits (eating, exercising, and mental wellbeing)
- Support nurses and midwives in your local communities
- Send a thank you note to your doctor
- Visit a zero-waste organic store near you
- Improve your lifestyle by taking a fitness challenge.
For more reasons, why you should do your part for a fairer, healthier world consider these statistics:
- For the first time in 20 years, we predict global poverty levels to rise and hinder the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (World Bank)
- Up to 60% of people living in some countries of the Region lack coverage with essential health services (WHO)
- Over 1 billion people living in informal settlements or slums are facing increased challenges in preventing infection and transmission of the coronavirus (United Nations)
- 52% of the Asia-Pacific population remains unconnected to the internet.
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