Thank Your Health Care Workers: A World Health Day Celebration
Written by Abigail Preiszig
A summary of World Health Day, its origins, this year’s theme, what it means, and how to celebrate.
World Health Day is a global holiday backed by the World Health Organization (WHO). It takes place each year on April 7 to draw attention to global health. This day of health awareness shines a light on physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as the importance of access to healthcare around the world.
World Health Day also marks the foundation of the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO was proposed by officials of Brazil and China in 1945. They desired an international health organization that is inclusive and free from government powers. On April 7, 1948, 61 other countries signed on to be a part of the World Health Organization. The celebration of this day began in 1950.
Each World Health Day honors a theme chosen by the WHO director-general. Some prior themes include “Hunger = Disease of Millions” (1963), “Immunize and Protect Your Child” (1977), “Smoking or Health: Choice is Yours” (1980), “Handle Life with Care: Prevent Violence and Negligence” (1993), “Move for Health” (2002), “Depression – Let’s Talk” (2017) and “Support Nurses and Midwives” (2020). Each theme is meant to focus worldwide attention to an important aspect of global health.
In 2021, the WHO is launching a year-long campaign titled the “Year of Health and Care Workers,” under the theme “Protect. Invest. Together.” This has been chosen by WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
This year's campaign shares in WHO’s top priority of Health For All. WHO believes that when people are healthy, then their families, communities and countries benefit. Therefore, WHO’s top priority is to support and encourage national health authorities to enact policies aimed to ensure equitable and affordable healthcare for all.
It is also an attempt at building a fairer and healthier world, too. WHO recognizes how unequal and unfair the world we live in is, and the onset of COVID-19 has further highlighted this. This past year has affected every single country in the world, but its impact has been harshest on those communities which were already vulnerable to begin with. The pandemic made it prominent that some have better access to health services simply due to the conditions into which they were born.
With this campaign, WHO is calling upon leaders everywhere to monitor health inequities, ensure all people quality health service when and where they need them, and monitor living and working conditions to be sure they are conducive to health. To do this, we need our leaders to work together, collect reliable data, tackle inequities and act beyond borders.
Other campaign objectives, as detailed on WHO’s website, include:
Ensure the world’s healthcare workers are prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine in the first 100 days of 2021.
Recognize and commemorate all healthcare workers who have lost their lives during the pandemic.
Mobilize commitments from member states, international financing institutions, bilateral and philanthropic partners to protect and invest in healthcare workers to accelerate the attainment of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and COVID-19 recovery.
Engage member states and all relevant stakeholders in dialogue on a care compact to protect health and care workers’ rights, decent work and practice environments.
Bring together communities, influencers, and political and social support in solidarity and advocacy for healthcare workers.