April 7th- The World Health Day and its Positive Influence on World Health
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – WHO
About World Health Day
On April 7th every year, the World Health Day is an event held under the aegis of the WHO, World Health Organization. It is a day earmarked to help raise global health awareness and understanding. The event is held so that people’s attention world over can be drawn to epidemics, illnesses and sicknesses and what measures are to be taken, how best to, and effectively combat and eradicate them. All this is done in a way to promote or improve global health. It is very important that people world over are healthy and fit. If not, many things will be affected because if people’s wellbeing is not addressed, then everything will be at standstill. There will be no growth, progress or in essence, economies too would suffer.
The WHO tagline for the World Health Day, “the goal is to build a better, healthier future for people all over the world,” speaks volumes about this initiative.
Every year a specific health issue, whether physical or mental is chosen and there are many campaigns that happen world over, to help build awareness, talk about it, educate people and encourage people to talk about it and to also avail treatment when necessary.
This year’s health focus is is Depression,and the campaign is aptly titled, “Let’s Talk”.
Tracing its origins
It was in the year 1948 that the UNO’s Health department, WHO, held the first World Health Assembly in Geneva and it was then decided that the World Health Day will be celebrated on April 7th every year. Accordingly, the first event was held in the year 1950.
The Motives to celebrate World Health Day
On the occasion of this annual Health event, the event focuses on raising public awareness and the health theme will run for a year. As in, in the year 1995, there was a Global Polio Eradication program that was such a runaway success that most countries, worked to be free of this sickness. Therefore, it is proven that the theme does have its positives. And there are many related events held at international levels and of course at national, State, regional, local, and community levels.
Over the years, WHO had focused on different issues, sicknesses, and lifestyle diseases like, diabetes, blood pressure, the importance of food safety, the increased spread of vector-borne sicknesses like yellow fever, malaria, chikungunya, and dengue. And not to miss adverse effects of global climate change and increased urbanization has also received focus.
In addition to the World Health Day, WHO also organizes other health campaigns and events every year as in, World Immunization Week, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day, World Hepatitis Day, World Tuberculosis Day, World AIDS Day, and World Blood Donor Day.
How is World Health Day Observed?
Public health issues bind all. Therefore, government and non-government organizations work in tandem organize events, programs and activities and draw attention to the topic on hand. As part of this, policy makers at local, regional, national and international levels organize events devise programs and toolkits specific to geographies, social, economic, and cultural conditions.
Serious health issues that affected the world’s population like small pox, TB, leprosy, chickenpox, polio, in the past were to a great extent addressed by WHO via dedicated World Health Day awareness programs.
One such initiative that needs special mention has been the WHO’s program to help wipe out smallpox. It was started in 1958, by Mr. Viktor Zhdanov, the then Deputy Minister of Health of the erstwhile USSR. And finally, 20 years down the line, in 1979, WHO declared that smallpox was completely eradicated from the world. And this was made possible only due to awareness-building and people’s efforts.
Year 2017’s WHO Health Theme- Let’s Talk
“He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.” - Arabic Proverb
Mental health is important to our overall wellbeing just as much as physical health. And it is not something that can be ignored or overlooked as it is a very grim reality of today. And hence the health theme for this year is Depression.
This year, WHO as part of the World Health Day 2017, plans to organize and build awareness and act on the mental health issue, depression. This is a condition that afflicts people of all age groups, from all walks of life, young or old, rich or poor and it can occur at any time in life and anyone is susceptible to it. Incidentally, like any epidemic or illness, it is not limited to one place or country; it is a global health issue. And its debilitating effect is that it leaves people unable to go about their daily routines, work, and affects their ability to interact and mingle and there is an increased level of sadness and feeling of worthlessness and most people feel lonely, dejected and do not feel like doing anything that is part of normal activity. And this in a way has a cascading effect and long-lasting consequences as it affects not just the individual and their health, but their families, organizations, friends and affects the community in general.
The current world health issue is mental health and wellbeing of people. This over the years has seen a major dip and accordingly depression is touted to be the number 1 mental health issue and it is affecting over 350 million individuals worldwide. Some people are aware, some are not, and many are in denial or do not want to address it or seek help. As a result this is an epidemic that can be devastating because, the sickness is not apparent but it is there and helping people is not easy.
The figures are startling and scary at the same time. In this day and age, with so much information at our fingertips, if this silent killer has spread to this extent and is still spreading, then some serious interventions are required to help people seek help or undergo treatment.
And that is why WHO has made it their prerogative to focus on Depression via the World Health Day 2017. The campaign slogan is “Let’s Talk” and this how WHO is planning to reach out to people. If depression is not addressed or treated in time, it can lead to suicides even. And the many campaigns, programs, events and activities organized at different levels is aimed to make a difference and to help people overcome barriers to shrug any stigma associated with it and just meet a doctor.
What does WHO achieve with a World Health Day observance?
People are made aware of the many health issues, sicknesses, illnesses, and epidemics and it is not just communicable or physical diseases but mental health problems too are in focus.
As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure,” WHO via these campaigns aims to prevent the spread of diseases and finally hopes to eradicate it, or stem its growth.
By building awareness, people who are at risk or in danger can take precautions and make some lifestyle changes.
And most of all, it improves the self care awareness among people and communities in general.
And thus, a healthy individual helps build a healthy society, a healthy community and a healthy milieu in the country and this goes a long way in ensuring global health and wellbeing.
Aptly ending with this thoughtful quote,“I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.” - Joyce Meyer