World Health Day
The World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on April 7. In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) held the First World Health Assembly. The Assembly decided to celebrate 7 April of each year as the World Health Day. The WHO organizes international, regional and local events on the Day related to a particular theme. The theme for this year is “Universal Health Coverage".
The World Health Organization was founded on the principle that all people should be able to realize their right to the highest possible level of health.
“Health for all” has therefore been our guiding vision for more than seven decades. It’s also the impetus behind the current organization-wide drive to support countries in moving towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Experience has illustrated, time and again, that Universal Health Coverage is achieved when political will is strong.
So in this 70th anniversary year, WHO is calling on world leaders to live up to the pledges they made when they agreed the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, and commit to concrete steps to advance the health of all people. This means ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.
The Organization will maintain a high-profile focus on UHC via a series of events through 2018, starting on World Health Day on 7 April with global and local conversations about ways to achieve health for all.
Why universal health coverage matters?
Countries that invest in UHC make a sound investment in their human capital. In recent decades, UHC has emerged as a key strategy to make progress towards other health-related and broader development goals. Access to essential quality care and financial protection not only enhances people’s health and life expectancy, it also protects countries from epidemics, reduces poverty and the risk of hunger, creates jobs, drives economic growth and enhances gender equality.
World Health Day messages
- Universal health coverage is about ensuring all people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.
- No one should have to choose between good health and other life necessities.
- UHC is key to people’s and nations’ health and well-being.
- UHC is feasible. Some countries have made great progress. Their challenge is to maintain coverage to meet people’s expectations.
- All countries will approach UHC in different ways: there is no one size fits all. But every country can do something to advance UHC.
- Making health services truly universal requires a shift from designing health systems around diseases and institutions towards health services designed around and for people.
- Everyone can play a part in the path to UHC, by taking part in a UHC conversation.
Too many people are currently missing out on health coverage
“Universal” in UHC means “for all”, without discrimination, leaving no one behind. Everyone everywhere has a right to benefit from health services they need without falling into poverty when using them.
Here are some facts and figures about the state of UHC today:
- At least half of the world’s people is currently unable to obtain essential health services.
- Almost 100 million people are being pushed into extreme poverty, forced to survive on just $1.90 or less a day, because they have to pay for health services out of their own pockets.
- Over 800 million people (almost 12 percent of the world’s population) spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family member. They incur so-called “catastrophic expenditures”.
- Incurring catastrophic expenses for health care is a global problem. In richer countries in Europe, Latin America and parts of Asia, which have achieved high levels of access to health services, increasing numbers of people are spending at least 10 percent of their household budgets on out-of-pocket health expenses.
What UHC is
- UHC means that all people and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.
- UHC enables everyone to access the services that address the most important causes of disease and death and ensures that the quality of those services is good enough to improve the health of the people who receive them.
What UHC is not
- UHC does not mean free coverage for all possible health interventions, regardless of the cost, as no country can provide all services free of charge on a sustainable basis.
- UHC is not only about ensuring a minimum package of health services, but also about ensuring a progressive expansion of coverage of health services and financial protection as more resources become available.
- UHC is not only about medical treatment for individuals, but also includes services for whole populations such as public health campaigns – for example adding fluoride to water or controlling the breeding grounds of mosquitoes that carry viruses that can cause disease.
- UHC is not just about health care and financing the health system of a country. It encompasses all components of the health system: systems and healthcare providers that deliver health services to people, health facilities and communications networks, health technologies, information systems, quality assurance mechanisms and governance and legislation.