World Health Day is an annual event which aims to create awareness of a “specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization (WHO).”
But when did it begin, what is this year’s theme and what can you do to get involved? Here’s what you need to know about World Health Day 2021.
What is World Health Day?
From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948, World Health Day took effect from 1950 onwards, with an annual day aimed at raising awareness of important health issues, including mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change.
World Health Day is a World Health Organisation event, within the United Nations’ system.
When is it?
World Health Day takes place on 7 April each year.
How is it observed?
The day is usually marked by “activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health,” explains WHO.
This year, WHO is calling on leaders to ensure that communities are at the forefront in decision-making processes, and that everyone has living and working conditions that are “conducive to good health.”
WHO is also urging leaders to monitor health inequities, and to ensure that all people are able to access quality health services depending on their needs and values within their individual communities.
What is this year’s theme?
World Health Day 2021 is based around the concept of ‘building a fairer, healthier world for everyone.
According to WHO, the ongoing Covid pandemic has “undercut recent health gains, pushed more people into poverty and food insecurity, and amplified gender, social and health inequities.”
Therefore, this World Health Day, WHO is calling for action in order to “eliminate health inequities, as part of a year-long global campaign to bring people together to build a fairer, healthier world.”
Addressing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, WHO says that although Covid-19 has hit all countries hard, its impact has been harshest on communities which were already vulnerable, and who are more exposed to the disease and less likely to have access to quality health care services.
These countries are also more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures which have been brought into place to contain the pandemic, WHO adds.
‘Everyone needs assistance, especially the most vulnerable’
Numerous people and organisations have posted on Twitter addressing World Health Day 2021.
Pope Francis wrote on Twitter: “Everyone needs assistance, especially the most vulnerable. Only together can we build a more just and healthy world. All of us are called to combat the pandemic and vaccines are an essential tool in this fight #worldhealthday.”
UN (United Nations) Women also posted on Twitter: “Around the world, women are making up the majority of health & social care workers, but they earn 11% less than their male counterparts. Today, on #WorldHealthDay, we're calling for #equalpay!”
WHO said on Twitter: “On #WorldHealthDay, let's build a fairer, healthier world. #COVID19 highlighted how some people live healthier lives & have better access to health services than others, due to their living conditions.
“It's time for #HealthEquity to reach #HealthForAll!”
WHO later added: “Health inequities lead to unnecessary suffering, avoidable illness, disability, and premature death. They exacerbate existing disadvantages and harm our societies and economies.”
How can I get involved?
You can get involved with World Health Day 2021 in a variety of ways.
You can join the free World Health Day webinar on health equity and Covid-19 - with opening remarks by Dr Tedros at 2pm CET time, which is 1pm in the UK.
There’s also a number of visual logos which can be shared on social media for World Health Day, alongside information regarding the WHO’s work to improve health equity.
You can also read up on the facts and figures about health inequity around the globe.