April 7, observed as World Health Day each year, marks the anniversary of the founding of World Health Organization (WHO), in 1948. Each year, World Health Day is observed to provide a global opportunity to focus attention on important public health issues that affect the international community. The theme for 2021 World Health Day is “Building a fairer, healthier world”. This year, the aim of World Health Day’s aim is to provide people access to healthcare without financial hardship and irrespective of location – whether they are from Africa, Asia, South America or the United States.

The World Health Day celebration aims to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization. Every year, this day brings light to important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health. Medical specialties providing healthcare services can benefit from professional medical billing services to ensure accurate submission of medical claims for timely reimbursement.

Eliminating Health Inequities

Health inequities are systematic differences in the health status of different population groups. These inequities have significant social and economic costs both to individuals and societies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many countries in different ways. While countries in the Western Pacific have experienced rapid economic growth and urbanization, many others were left behind. Many people were pushed into poverty, food insecurity, amplified gender, social and health inequities. The pandemic has been harshest on those communities which were already vulnerable, exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality health care services and more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.

This World Health Day, WHO aims to eliminate health inequities and bring people together to build a fairer and healthier world. This global campaign highlights WHO’s constitutional principle, “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”

According to WHO, health inequities are unfair and unjust and can be preventable with strategies that place greater attention to improving health equity for the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.

WHO calls upon leaders to ensure –

  • communities are at the forefront in decision-making processes in future
  • everyone has living and working conditions that are conducive to good health
  • monitoring of health inequities, and
  • all people have access quality health services depending on their needs

In 2018, WHO highlighted a fact file that looks at what health inequities are, which says that

  • Maternal mortality is a key indicator of health inequity
  • Tuberculosis is a disease of poverty
  • Each day 16,000 children die before their fifth birthday
  • Life expectancy varies by 34 years between countries
  • Health disparities are huge in certain cities
  • Persistent inequities slow development

To be a part of this global campaign and to prevent inequities, healthcare providers can consider working hand in hand with affected communities and individuals to address the root causes of inequities and implementing solutions to address them, ensure reliable health data collection to assess inequities across population subgroups and take actions, tackle the root causes of inequities and increase investment in primary health care and act beyond national borders – such as assuring an equitable supply of vaccines, tests and treatments, building community trust and participation.