World Health Day Could Be The Excuse You Needed to Care For Your Health
Living life in the 21st century kinda sucks! From the dysfunctional relationships we've developed with our phones to the air we breathe (shocker, it's polluted!(1)), it often seems like the whole world is out to make us weaker by the day - both physically and mentally. What's worse, diseases that didn't exist a few decades ago (such as Ebola(2), the Zika virus(3), and even anorexia(4)) are making headlines due to their increasingly threatening nature, which means our health is on the line 24/7, especially if we're not careful.
But, the real question behind all these is: Why are we really in danger? Isn't public health a human right? More than that, don't we have a series of top-tier prevention and treatment methods at our disposal to cure what ails us? While the answer to these questions should be a profound “YES,” it's worth mentioning that almost half of the world's population has no access to the public health system; so, it looks like being healthy isn't always a given.
Specifically, according to the World Health Organization(5) (WHO), half of the people in the world don't receive the health services they need,which is shocking considering we live in an era of artificial intelligence. That's why it's time we embraced World Health Day and made such issues a thing of the past.
What is World Health Day?
Celebrated annually on April 7th, World Health Day(6) is a global initiative that aims to raise awareness on certain topics regarding health and longevity. Specifically, WHO and several other health organizations sponsor this series of events in an attempt to improve the quality of our lives any way they can, from informing people on how to eat, live, and exercise (among others) to influencing policy makers into changing the health system for the better.
So, on this day, the organizations involved in this initiative orchestrate a bunch of activities - conferences for health workers, educational meetings for young people, teenagers and kids and briefings for local politicians - in an attempt to inform everyone about the current status of the global health system. In some cases, they even set up easy access points where people can get tested for free.
Since 1995, the decision makers behind the celebration adopted a theme-centric approach to increase the celebration's dynamic. Each year, they pick a new theme to highlight as the year's priority area of concern. Some of the most important themes discussed in years prior include the “Emerging Infectious Diseases” in 1997, “Safe Motherhood” in 1998, “Antimicrobial Resistance” in 2011, and “Healthy Blood Pressure” in 2013.
This year's theme is “Universal Health Coverage” which means that for 2019, WHO and all affiliate organizations want to make sure every person in the world has access to high quality health services without suffering financial hardship, even if they live in very secluded areas. With this in mind, we can't help but wonder: Isn't World Health Day changing everyone's lives for the better?
Sickness Doesn't Discriminate Against/For Region
While many may think that WHO's goal for 2019 is to help developing and under-developed countries improve their public health system, the organization's job doesn't just end there. Due to the recent global financial crisis, thousands of people in many Western countries are struggling to make ends meet, often at the expense of their health.
That means that diseases that would otherwise go extinct are still running rampant as our fellow citizens don't have access to treatment, either through a doctor visit or vaccination. As a result, several diseases - measles, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever - are making a comeback, especially in overcrowded countries like China.
What does that mean? Well, you may think that catching a fatal disease is more of a third world problem, but guess what? Sickness doesn't discriminate against/for certain regions – which is why raising awareness on an improved worldwide health system is certainly something we should all work on.
Local Problem Today, Global Problem Tomorrow
Another way in which World Health Day is changing our lives for the better is by reminding us once again that everyone and everything on this planet is somehow connected. What does this mean? Well, we'll let the case of Zika virus(7) do the talking here.
You see, experts report that the mosquito borne illness was first identified in Uganda, Africa sometime during the 1940s. That was a long time ago, wasn't it? Fast forwarding to today, the decades-old virus not only hasn't gone extinct, but it is still going strong, having made its way to Polynesia and Brazil (remember the latest outbreak?).
With that in mind, it's easy to assume that a more efficient health system on Africa's behalf could have prevented the virus from spreading in the first place. But, since that didn't happen (and it still doesn't in many parts of the world), more and more people get infected by the virus. Caring just for our local health system is pretty short sighted because what may seem like a distant issue at the moment could turn out to be a not-so-distant problem in the near future.
Raising the Stakes Here, Raising the Stakes Everywhere
This year's theme is also making waves by urging the entire global health system to change to the core. Specifically, WHO and the other organizations supporting the celebration want health workers (especially those active in challenging environments) to educate patients on how to promote their health and advocate for their medical needs.
In doing so, the entire system gets an instant makeover, which means the market becomes more competitive. More than that, such positive changes are bound to come full circle back to us one way or the other. So, to put it simply, improving the conditions one hospital or patient at a time could have a positive impact on the efficiency of the global health system, meaning we're doing ourselves a favor in the long-term.
So, what do you think? Is this a cause worth fighting for? If so, we'd love to hear how you're going to celebrate National Health Day.