On April 7th each year we mark the celebration of World Health Day. Created by the World Health Organisation in 1950, it is one of the world’s oldest health awareness days. It commemorates the day in 1948 that the very first World Health Organisation assembly ever took place.
Whilst the WHO promotes several health specific awareness days annually they use World Health Day to draw global attention to broader situations. Each year has a different theme. In 1996 it promoted ‘healthy cities for a better life’, in 2017 the theme was ‘Let’s talk’ which sought to tackle depression. Last year, as the pandemic was beginning to take hold, World Health Day celebrated nurses and midwives. As applause rang out in our streets for our front-line carers the WHO highlighted the gruelling workload and pressure that these professionals endure both physically and mentally.
It’s not really surprising that the theme for this years’ World Health Day is inspired again by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our world is sadly lacking equality.
The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the inequalities of healthcare systems, both globally and within our own communities. Covid-19 has hit the entire world but the harshest impact has been on those groups, cultures and countries already at a disadvantage. Even in high-income countries, those in more deprived areas have been greatly affected. As a result communities and economies on a world-wide scale are, and will continue to crack under the pressure.
Building a fairer, healthier world.
The key message behind this years’ World Health Day is unity. This situation of inequality within the global healthcare system can be prevented, and it needs to be. Not just for now, but for our future also. There is a need for a more robust international health architecture.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe.
The World Health Organisation is calling for world leaders, governments and health officials to:
Connect with those most affected and address the root causes of inequities and implement solutions in a coordinated approach.
To correctly identify where the inequities exist within communities based on the disaggregated information of gender, age, income, education, geographic location and other relevant characteristics.
Ensure Health for All. Target the root causes of these inequities and increase investment in primary healthcare.
Only when we can protect, test and treat the whole global population will we be able to end a world-wide health crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Creating strong national and international healthcare structures and building community trust and participation is tantamount to this.
COVID-19 shows why united action is needed for more robust international health architecture.
What can we do?
World Health Day is a health awareness day. It is a firm call to action directed at world leaders. It is also about creating social awareness of global problems and as a society we can certainly do our part. Sign petitions, speak to your local member of parliament, shout about the unfairness of the inequality of global healthcare. Every single human should have a decent healthcare system available to them.
What can I do?
Look after yourself. Stay healthy. By keeping our mental and physical health in check we can help to alleviate the pressure on our own healthcare system. Sleep well, stay hydrated, be mindful and most importantly be active. The four pillars of wellness. And make every day a world health day.
Check out the WHO website for more information about the 2021 World Health Day campaign.