The World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates 75 years of improving public health this World Health Day, April 7, 2023. In 1948, countries of the world came together and founded WHO to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable – so everyone, everywhere could attain the highest level of health and well-being. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is also celebrating a milestone, as December 2022 marked its 120th anniversary. PAHO is the oldest public health agency in the world, established in 1902 to work with countries and territories in the Americas to improve the health and well-being of their populations.
The World Health Day theme this year is “Health for All”, which underscores that the right to health is a basic human right. Everyone should have access to the health services they need when and where they need them without financial hardship. According to the WHO and PAHO, Health for All envisions that all people have good health for a fulfilling life in a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.
The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands are still recovering from devastating hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic. The journey to Health for All in various countries has become more urgent due to COVID-19 and other health emergencies, overlapping humanitarian and climate crises, economic constraints, and/or war.
“Health for all means that everyone, everywhere can access high quality health services when they need it without falling into financial hardship,” said Dr. Eldonna Boisson, the PAHO/WHO Representative for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.
To date, 30% of the global population is not able to access essential health services. Almost two billion people face catastrophic or impoverishing health spending, with significant inequalities affecting those in the most vulnerable settings. On average, about one-third of people in the countries of the Americas reported foregoing needed care due to multiple barriers related to access.
PAHO/WHO promotes Universal Health (Universal access to health and universal health coverage), which implies that all people and communities have access, without any kind of discrimination, to comprehensive, appropriate, and timely, quality health services determined according to needs. Also, that all people and communities have access to safe, effective, and affordable quality medicines, while ensuring that the use of such services does not expose users to financial difficulties, especially the most vulnerable groups. This promotes the well-being of families and communities, protects against public health crises, and moves us toward Health for All.
Dr. Boisson invites residents to consider these issues on this World Health Day: “Join us on a journey to achieve Health for All and to motivate action to tackle the health challenges of today and tomorrow.”
A nation’s success, WHO says, must be measured by the well-being of people and healthy environments. Health for All seeks to engage and empower individuals, families and communities for increased social participation and enhanced self-care in health. It also works to ensure informed and active participation, with people at the center of health decisions and outcomes.
Source: Felicity Darville