- World Health Day is observed worldwide on the 7th April, coinciding with the anniversary of the establishment of the WHO in 1948 and each year the WHO takes up an existing global health issue and aims to address it through its yearly campaign
- Despite healthcare advances in many countries, nearly 800 million of the world's population have to spend about 10 percent of their household income to afford health care services and about 50 percent of the world's population do not have access to comprehensive health care services
- All UN member nations have agreed to try and achieve "universal health coverage for all by 2030" as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
The theme of the World Health day 2019 focuses on providing 'universal health coverage'
by the year 2030. This is certainly postponement of similar goals which was talked about for the year 2000 as 'Health for all by 2000.'
The goal was pushed further to 2020 and now again to 2030. 'Health for all' or universal health coverage requires political will of the government to implement that is adequately supported by adequate timely financial resources.
Although, the last 50 years has seen some rapid advancements and increase in the wealth of the people but millions in the world continue to have NO ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE
. The poor, if they have a health catastrophe,
is left to die and for the less affordable the choice is often between health care and other daily expenses such as food and clothing.
‘Almost half the world’s population do not have access to comprehensive healthcare services and all UN member states have come together and agreed to try and achieve ‘universal health coverage for all by 2030’ in their respective countries as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.’
WHO as an organization has believed strongly in creating 'Universal health coverage' in all their partner countries. The key to achieving it is by ensuring that everyone can obtain the care they need, when they need it and right in the heart of the community.
Primary Aims of the World Health Day Campaign - Universal Health Coverage
The principle of 'Universal health coverage' is based on equity in health-care services for all the individuals of the world. This can only happen if the economies are healthy and are able to sustain the costs.
On 7th April 2019, WHO wishes to create awareness among
the general population about what universal health coverage means -
- Advocating for equal health care access to all anywhere in the world despite socioeconomic status, gender or race
- Reminding health care personnel about their duty to interact with policymakers and make them aware of health and social issues that need to be addressed particularly at the primary care level
- Government officials and health ministers can avail this opportunity to recognize key gaps in the healthcare system and address them as well as highlight the achievements and progress of their programs so far
The WHO releases the World Health Statistics Report every year and the publication contains health indicators covering newborn and child health, maternal health, mental health, non-communicable diseases, and environmental threats such as climate change, and also data on universal health coverage programs in each region and country
Role of Key Players in Achieving Universal Health Coverage
All of us including the general public, health care personnel, media and the policymakers should do our part in making universal health coverage a reality.
- General public should be aware of their health rights and liaise with the local health care system to get information on prevention and treatment of various conditions as well as highlight the problems faced by the community on social and mass media for timely action by the administration
- Healthcare personnel should educate and inform patients about the available resources and treatment options and help them make informed decisions. Additionally, they should be the voices of the patients to the policymakers to implement effective health policies and programs
- Media should be proactive and highlight issues faced by the community for appropriate action by health officials and policymakers as well as educate the general public on prevalent health issues by organizing talks, debates and discussions with experts
- Policymakers should invest money and effort to improve the healthcare system and be receptive to inputs from the public, the media and healthcare officials to fill the gaps in the existing system, be better prepared to face health challenges and implement effective programs to achieve the universal health for all goal by 2030
Importance of Primary Health Care To Achieve Universal Health Coverage
- Affordable healthcare is a basic human right
- Primary health care i.e. the first level of patient interaction with the health system including basic treatment, vaccinations, family planning and nutritional advice, rehabilitation as well as palliative care should be well equipped and staffed and close to where people live and work
- Primary health-care workers know the cultures and traditions of the community, know their patient's health history and have a trusted relationship with their patients and are a key part of achieving the goal of universal health coverage
- Effective primary health care set up particularly in rural areas is key to helping nations achieving universal health coverage
- A strong primary health care set-up improves the health outcomes of patients and is cost-effective
- The goal of primary health care is about improving the physical, mental and social health of the community and caring for its people rather than just treat symptoms or disease
- Primary health care personnel are critical during outbreaks or emergencies as the local population trusts them and heeds their advice
- Achieving universal health coverage is possible and it is the responsibility of the people involved to make it happen
History of 'Health for ALL'
Halfdan Mahler who was the Director General of the World Health Organisation from 1973-1983 defined 'Health For All' in 1981, as follows: Health For All
means that health is to be brought within the reach of everyone in a given country. And by "health" is meant a personal state of well being, not just the availability of health services - a state of health that enables a person to lead a socially and economically productive life. Health For All implies the removal of the obstacles to health - that is to say, the elimination of malnutrition, ignorance, contaminated drinking water and unhygienic housing - quite as much as it does the solution of purely medical problems such as a lack of doctors, hospital beds, drugs and vaccines.
The adoption of Health For All by government, implies a commitment to promote the advancement of all citizens on a broad front of development and a resolution to encourage the individual citizen to achieve a higher quality of life.
The rate of progress will depend on the political will. The World Health Assembly believes that, given a high degree of determination, Health For All could be attained by the year 2000. That target date is a challenge to all WHO's Member States.
History of World Health Day
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the chief health arm of the United Nations. The WHO held its First World Health Assembly in 1948 where it was decided to celebrate 7th April each as the World Health Day starting from 1950. It marks the establishment of the WHO's and each year the organization takes up a current global health issue to address during its annual campaign.
The World Health Day is a momentous occasion and huge opportunity for all of us to come together to spread the message of equal and affordable health care to all in order to improve the health of the individual as well as the society, not to mention the economic health of the nation. References :
- Universal health coverage - (https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/universal-health-coverage-(uhc))
- Health For All - (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_For_All)