World Health Day is observed internationally on April 7. The day is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), and every year a different global health issue is highlighted. The day also marks the anniversary of the WHO's founding and aims to remind people that health and access to healthcare are human rights. To celebrate the day, the World Health Organization holds events and activities across the world, and at regional levels.
History of World Health Day
The origins of World Health Day are the same as the origins of the World Health Organization. The World Health Organization was founded on April 7, 1948, out of the necessity for the United Nations to have an international organization dedicated to health issues, and independent from any government. The role of the WHO was to deal with issues of public health and hygiene, as well as provide medical relief on a global scale to any nations in need of it.
At the first World Health Assembly in 1948 it was established that, from 1950, April 7 would be celebrated as World Health Day to raise awareness about specific health issues and concerns of the World Health Organization.
To do so, every year a different theme is highlighted for World Health Day that focuses on different issues such as maternal health, child care, or mental health, among others. Some of the past themes have been:
1998: Safe motherhood
2003: Shape the future of life: healthy environments for children
2008: Protecting health from the adverse effects of climate change
2017: Depression: Let's talk
2018: Universal Health Coverage: everyone, everywhere
2019: Visionary Women: Champions of peace and non-violence.
2020: Support nurses and midwives
The World Health Day theme for 2021 is "Building a fairer, healthier world". It highlights the fact that access to basic healthcare is still very unequal, and many people around the world still struggle to be treated for their health issues.
Most World Health Day themes have been very effective at raising awareness and educating the public about the best actions to take to prevent and treat health issues and diseases, such as polio and infectious diseases, and encouraging people to exercise and get moving to improve their health. This is why World Health Day is such an important observance.
Another main goal of World Health Day is to make Universal Health Care a reality for everyone, meaning everyone will have fair access to the treatments they need.
Celebrating World Health Day
The WHO organizes many events and activities for World Health Day on an international and regional scale. These serve to educate the public about current issues, and the work of the WHO, and can be conferences, exhibitions, and screening events. If you don't have such an event happening near you, the WHO provides information and toolkits for organizers. So you can take the initiative and start a conversation about health and healthcare in your community.
Take this opportunity to educate yourself on health issues and crises happening around the world currently, and look into ways you can help. You could volunteer with a local health organization or at a hospital, or donate to medical research or funds that help make healthcare accessible to those who can't afford it.