April is here and spring has sprung. And that means that World Health Day is in our midst. This year (like every year), World Health Day is on April 7th, which begs the questions: do you know what World Health Day entails?
You may have heard the words World Health Day thrown around and maybe you have a vague idea of what it means. But today, we will dive deep into what World Health Day actually is and how you can get involved!
What is World Health Day?
World Health Day is sponsored by the World Health Organization or WHO and other organizations. According to WHO, the World Health day is, “a global health awareness day”. It happens every year on the same day—April 7th—the day of WHO’s founding. It was first started in 1948—meaning that this year marks the 70th anniversary for World Health Day.
Each year, World Health Day chooses a subject of major importance in the world of health. For instance, in 2015 the theme was “Food safety”, in 2016 the theme was “Halt the rise: beat diabetes”, and in 2017 the theme was “Depression: Let’s talk”.
This year, in 2018, the theme of World Health Day is “Universal Health Coverage”.
WHO describes the importance of this subject on their website: “History is made by our achievements. We have come a long way to make the impossible possible: from the control of fire, to life-saving vaccines to landing on the moon. Our next historic achievement is right in front of us: health for all humankind. What if everyone had access to health services they need? What if they were not published into poverty paying for the services? Together, we can make universal health coverage happen our lifetime.”
The aim of this day is not political in nature. Instead, WHO has an international scope and intends to spread awareness about the many people who do not have access to necessary heath care. Additionally, WHO plans to spread hope that this can change.
World Health Day 2018: Universal Health Coverage
What does Universal Health Coverage even mean? According to WHO, “Universal health coverage is about ensuring all people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.”
WHO believes that nobody should be given the choice between good health and other life necessities. This is critical to not only the health of people, but to the health of nations as well.
Some countries have made great strides towards ensuring Universal Health Care. This is a feasible goal. However, not all countries will approach this undertaking the same way. But every country can continue to make advancements towards Universal Health Care.
The aim behind World Health Day is to promote and someday soon achieve health care for all without any discrimination—leaving nobody behind. Unfortunately, today, there are simply too many people that do not have adequate health care services.
Some sobering facts from WHO illustrate the urgency of this subject matter.
According to WHO, “At least half of the world’s people is currently unable to obtain essential health care services.” And in fact, “Almost 100 million people are being pushed into extreme poverty, forced to survive on just $1.90 or less a day, because they have to pay for health services out of their own pockets.”
Lastly, “Over 800 million people (almost 12 percent of the world’s population) spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family member. They incur so called ‘catastrophic expenditures’.”
This is not an issue that only affects third world countries—it is truly a global issue—because even in “richer countries in Europe, Latin America, and parts of Asia, which have achieved high levels of access to health services, increasing numbers of people are spending at least 10 percent of their household budgets on out-of-pocket health expenses.”
How to Get Involved in World Health Day
This is not an issue that only diplomats and world leaders can be a part of. Every single person has a role in making progress towards Universal Health Coverage.
Everyone can contribute by stimulating conversations and adding to the dialogue in order to make advancements toward achieving and maintaining Universal Health Coverage.
WHO has a three-prong approach that anyone can take this April to take an initiative on World Health Day.
The first way to get involved is with your local government. In order to gain a grasp on your community’s demands, expectations, and opinions, start a dialogue or create a survey with different groups and organizations in your town or city.
You can then get together with grassroots organizations that focus on healthcare to discuss why and how Universal Health Coverage is important to your community. Then, call your policymakers and politicians to express your needs and expectations.
The second prong of the three-prong approach is to focus on individuals. The aim of this way to get involved is by spreading awareness and sparking conversation about Universal Health Coverage.
Use social media to your advantage! Head on over to www.who.int to find infographics and gifs that you can share to your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. Use the hashtags #HealthForAll and #WorldHealthDay that are designated for World Health Day. This will help spread the knowledge that Universal Health Coverage is necessary and achievable.
You can also organize activities or events such as concerts, marches, debates, or interviews with healthcare thought leaders in your community. This will provide people with an opportunity to get together, interact, and discuss Universal Health Coverage.
The last prong of the three prong approach is to reach out to your local media. Urge them to cover this important day and propose possible topics that apply to your community.
No matter what you choose to do or how you choose to do it, taking your part in World Health Day is a fantastic opportunity to make a difference not only in your local community, but in the world.