April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. Since 1950, this celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization. For this year’s celebration, the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls for urgent action to eliminate health inequities and mobilise action to attain better health for all and leave no one behind. The theme is, “Together for a fairer, healthier world”.
This global health day celebration draws a lot of issues to light; ranging from mental health to insurance and everything in between. More importantly, as we still battle the COVID-19 pandemic, access to healthcare for everyone is paramount in achieving a healthier world and SDG 3 (Good health and wellbeing).
This celebration has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. Today, globally, more people are aware of substance abuse and mental health problems; around 1 in 7 people.
Nonetheless, less privileged people struggle to make ends meet with little daily income, have poorer housing conditions and education, fewer employment opportunities, experience greater gender inequality, and have little or no access to safe environments, clean water, air, and health services. This leads to unnecessary suffering, avoidable illness, and premature death. And it harms our societies and economies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that the more vulnerable a community is, the more exposed they were to the virus, and the more likely to experience adverse consequences.
The togetherness of the world in the fight against the pandemic resulted in great strides in developing, testing, and distributing vaccines for everyone’s access. This proves that, if intentional efforts are made by all relevant stakeholders equitable access to healthcare for a fairer and healthier environment is achievable.
With strategies that place greater attention on improving health equity, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalised groups, health inequities are preventable. When leaders consider communities at the fore of decision-making processes, healthcare for all is attainable and the achievement of SDG 3 becomes reality.