For the past 70 years, April 7th has been World Health Day: an important date for the international community to meet, plan actions and inform the public about the greatest challenge we face in the Third Millennium: our health.
How it started.
The origins of World Health Day are closely tied to those of the World Health Organization (WHO), the specialized UN agency officially established on April 7th 1948 to promote “the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health” – defined as full physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of illness or infirmity.
It was in honor of the WHO’s foundation that April 7th was chosen, in 1950, as World Health Day: a day in which the organization’s 194 member states would take time to discuss health issues, plan actions and define shared goals to improve people’s condition.
Why it’s important.
Soon, countries’ programs for World Health Day extended past the official 24 hours marked on the calendar. April 7th quickly became a platform for governments, NGOs, foundations and health care institutions to share their progress and announce long-term goals, highlighting issues ahead and potential developments. More importantly, it became an opportunity for everyone to join forces to overcome international health emergencies.
It is easy to imagine that health issues in Western countries are (and always were) different from those in Africa or Southeast Asia: while the former fight diabetes, obesity and heart disease, the latter need to tackle lack of first aid and viral epidemics that still cause great suffering and premature deaths.
That is why a different theme is chosen for every World Health Day: to focus all efforts in a single direction, leaving no one behind.
This year’s edition.
After dedicating editions to depression, aging, blood pressure and chronic diseases, the 2019 World Health Day will continue to focus on the same theme as last year: the crucial and hard-to-achieve goal of universal health coverage.
Indeed, providing capillary aid all over the world is the most important link in the health care chain, and a crucial element in prevention, information, diagnosis and first aid policies for all patients. Widespread, qualified and financially accessible health coverage is the first, great step towards saving human lives; it also is an opportunity to redirect billions of dollars – currently wasted in low-quality, unsafe and unfounded care – towards investments in infrastructure and training.
The 2019 World Health Day will be a day for member states to share and exchange knowledge, methods and tools, with the goal of empowering everyone to meet higher standards for more efficient and less expensive health care.
- Today, approximately half the world population does not receive the essential health care services it needs.
- Every year, approximately 100 million people are pushed below the poverty line due to the unsustainable cost of the necessary treatments they have to pay for.
- Global health expenditure grew an average 1.3% a year in the 2012-2016 period. For 2017-2021, Deloitte’s 2018 Global Health Care Outlook calculates this figure will increase more than threefold, reaching 4.1%.