This spring marks a year since the outbreak and initial lockdown because of COVID-19, and over that time, perceptions of health and peoples’ methods of staying happy and healthy have been altered. For this reason, observing World Health Day this year on April 7 carries extra weight. The World Health Organization (WHO), that leads World Health Day each year, has published a list of its goals for this year’s event and information on how people can get involved to “build a fairer, healthier world.”
One of the main issues that the WHO is trying to address this year is the vast inequality in healthcare and living standards that can contribute to health issues disproportionately affecting minorities and those in poverty. “All over the world, some groups 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 and air, food security and health services,” writes the World Health Organization on its website.
This year, their approach will include working with partners and countries around the world to improve global health equity, taking special care to focus on the social determinants of an unequal healthcare system, ways to monitor equity and gender equity, along with human rights.
Another part of the WHO’s program for this year deals with bringing up the next generation of leaders to tackle these issues through cooperation and better collection of data relating to healthcare in countries around the world. This goal reaches beyond just the health sector and the borders of a single culture; this year, international collaboration and building relationships between communities is the stepping stone to reach the WHO’s goal.
This goal of international collaboration is especially important over a year after the initial COVID-19 outbreak, as vaccine distribution as well as the effects of the pandemic make existing inequity, as well as inequities more recently brought to light, even more visible and damaging to those who are harmed by them.
Reflecting on the pandemic and the hardships of 2020 is important, but organizations globally are looking to the future and how health can be improved for everyone around the world, especially when it comes to underserved communities and inequity.
For more information on the World Health Organization’s action plan for this year, visit World Health Day 2021.