By Emmy McKirgan
When I was asked to write about World Health Day I thought, sure, no problem. I mean, we all try to be healthier: eat better, exercise and get proper sleep. I soon found out this wasn’t quite what World Health Day is all about.
So perhaps you too have a skewed view of the meaning of this day. Let’s investigate it together and learn where and when it started, what we can do and what it means in 2021.
The First World Health Assembly called for the creation of a “World Health Day” in 1948. Since 1950, World Health Day has been celebrated on the 7th of April of each year. The World Health Organization’s website says this: ” The purpose of World Health Day is to raise global awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization (WHO). The Day serves as a launch for a long-term advocacy program for which activities will be undertaken and resources provided well beyond 7 April.”
Some of the past topics that have been addressed:
- Shape the future of life in 2003
- Move for Health in 2002
- Mental Health : Stop Exclusion, Dare to Care
The theme for 2021 is ” Building a fairer, healthier world”
In Canada, we have struggled with the COVID pandemic for over a year now, along with many other countries around the world. The problem is there are lots of countries that are unable to deal with the pandemic as efficiently as we have. (There are some who don’t think it has been efficient and there are issues. However, we will look at this based on all countries of the world not just first world ones.) They do not have the resources, funds or manpower to fight this as we can.
The WHO is trying to educate people on the lack of resources that many have to deal with. They are unable to get vaccines, tests or even basic health care. The reason: they were born in a third-world country. Perhaps they are living in rural communities that struggle to get water, food and shelter. Their current economy doesn’t allow for extra funds to deal with the unprecedented pandemic. Perhaps their country is in a war torn region. Natural disasters have impeded help. And so on.
COVID 19 is a world wide problem! We have to stop it by working together. It has upturned many peoples lives near and far. No longer can we do life as we have in the past. There are many who have lost jobs, livelihoods and a normal pattern of life. All the more, it has shown the disparity of those who have even less. Those who can’t even think about a vaccine. They don’t have proper water, sewage and treatment plants. They need to be able to have these necessities of life before they can even examine the possibility of sanitizers, masks, hygiene and vaccines.
What can you do to make a change?
We need to encourage other countries to provide the necessities of life for their people. They need to be able to access healthcare to be able to live healthier lives, including being able to get vaccines. These third world countries need help to stop the spread – so that people don’t needlessly suffer.
The inequality is tremendous and it is an atrocity. Health should not be based on finances, rather there should be healthcare available to all. The amount of money you have shouldn’t determine the level of healthcare you receive! Although, even in Canada this is an issue. Those who are financially well off are taken to the best hospitals, receive the best treatments and often overcome their sickness.
The other group: the regular joes, those under the poverty line and those who were vulnerable before the pandemic struck, aren’t so fortunate. Their health is often secondary and/or it takes months to get seen by a physician. Those who are well off can get an MRI in days – if you don’t have private coverage you will be waiting over a year to be seen by a specialist. That is outrageous- since when do human lives have a hierarchy? Is one life more prized than another?
This year, let’s look at the inequality in healthcare and do our part, both in Canada and abroad. : If something doesn’t seem right , if you see someone struggling with mental health, addiction or anything else -let’s do something about it! We need to call on leaders of all countries, but especially those who were already suffering, to allow for healthy and financially feasible working conditions and living conditions. In Canada, you can write your MP, educate yourself on how you can be an advocate for others. Let’s look out for each other – so that no one is left behind. Let’s be a part of the solution – healthcare for all! Let’s make this a goal for the year, not just the day. A goal not just for ourselves, but the world as a whole!