April 7th marks the annual celebration of World Health Day, which was first celebrated in 1950 to bring awareness to relevant health concerns as established by the World Health Organization (WHO).1 Past themes of World Health Day have included topics such as mental health, children’s health, and environmental concerns. National Today points out three major benefits of celebrating World Health Day2:
- Encourage wide-scale awareness
- Open conversation for multiple health topics
- Help you understand your own health
This year, the World Health Organization is focusing on accessible health care for all. Receiving quality primary health care is essential to lifelong health, but health care isn’t easily accessible for all individuals. According to WHO, at least half of the people in the world cannot get the health services they need. There are ongoing attempts to implement large-scale health insurance in countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Chile, Namibia, and South Africa with some progress, but there’s still a long distance to go.3
Health care coverage limitations aren’t just in third world countries, but also exist in America. By advocating for health insurance improvement, we can all raise awareness of the increased need for quality health care.
The WHO states, “Universal health coverage means that all people have access to the quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. We believe this is possible and it starts with strong primary health care. Primary health care is a whole-of-society approach to health and wellbeing centered on the needs and preferences of individuals, families and communities.”4 For such a large call to action, how can we get started?
Here are a few simple ideas for the general public, health workers, and policy makers alike to help make universal health coverage a reality:
- Discuss your health care needs with your local health worker. If you aren’t receiving the care you need or need other service options that better fit your budget, you can contact a healthcare worker by reaching out to the closest Public Health Department in your county.
- Speak to a political representative in your county about issues you are facing with your current health care and ideas you have that could improve your service. Change doesn’t happen without speaking up!
- If you are a healthcare worker, discuss ways to improve your service with your peers and local leaders. It is equally important to empower patients to improve health on their own.
- If you see a need, address it! Health care doesn’t just refer to visits with your primary care physician, but also the steps you take to prevent disease before it happens. Is your community lacking physical activity programs? Consider starting one yourself. Or, bring health concerns to your local town hall meetings.
- If you currently work in politics, advocate to invest resources into primary health care as well as gathering more data so that resources can be implemented where they are needed.
For more ideas, visit the WHO campaign page at https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/world-health-day-2019/about-the-campaign. Together, we can make a difference!
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- World Health Day. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/westernpacific/news/events/world-health-day. Accessed April 1, 2019.
- World Health Day – April 7, 2019. National Today. https://nationaltoday.com/world-health-day/. Accessed April 1, 2019.
- Spaan E, Mathijssen J, Tromp N, et al. The impact of health insurance in Africa and Asia: a systematic review. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/90/9/12-102301/en/. Published June 13, 2012. Accessed April 1, 2019.
- World Health Day 2019 Campaign Essentials. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/documents/campaign-essentials-whd19.pdf?sfvrsn=bda11f0f_2. Accessed April 1, 2019.