April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.
On this year's World Health Day, 7 April 2021, you can join a new campaign to build a fairer, healthier world.
Our world is an unequal one.
As COVID-19 has highlighted, some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others - entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, learn, work and age.
All over the world, some groups struggle to make ends meet with little daily income, have poorer housing conditions and education, fewer employment opportunities, experience greater gender inequality, and have littlis calling on leaders to ensure that everyone has living and working conditions that are conducive to good health. At the same time WHO urges Countries to monitor health inequities, and to ensure that all people are able to access quality health services and education.
COVID-19 has hit all countries hard, but 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 as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.
This is the second World Health Day to fall during the COVID-19 pandemic – the world’s worst peacetime health crisis in a century. It comes amidst gruelling and painful times for the world’s people who are dealing with the impacts of the pandemic, including those working in the health sector. The cost of COVID-19 is so high that it demands we do things differently: that we commit to building a fairer and healthier world by taking health equity much more seriously than before – and meet head-on the social and economic factors that cause health inequities.
People with little education are twice as likely to report poor health than those with a tertiary education. Education is connected to lifelong employment, learning, and participation in society and decision-making; and female literacy in particular results in better outcomes in children’s education, nutrition and life chances; reductions in family violence; and increased use of health services thanks to increased health literacy and better treatment from health services.
What should we do?
Policies for improving health should aim to, among other things, increase the general level and quality of education and provide equal opportunity of access to education. This is because education has a major effect on health over the life course – through increased income and opportunity, self-reliance, and empowerment. It also creates engaged citizens. Ensuring high-quality education for everyone improves health and well-being.
On this occasion WHO has issued a publication to support this campaign. The pamphlet is called It’s time to build a fairer, healthier world for everyone, everywhere and explores the topic of Health equity and its determinants.
To access the publication you can visit the dedicated WHO page.
Here is the 2021 Health Day WHO page, with some background information.