On this important occasion, WHO Sri Lanka will undertake a series of activities to advocate for a fairer healthier world, inspire others to take up the cause, and recognize ongoing and completed work.
Colombo, 7 April 2021 – Every year, on the anniversary of the founding of WHO, the 7th of April, World Health Day is celebrated; events and campaigns draw attention to a health topic that is relevant to people globally. The theme for 2021 is “building a fairer, healthier world”. World Heath Day will mark the launch of a health equity campaign that will run throughout 2021 up to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, 12th of December 2021.
Our world is an unequal one, and the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded disparities. The harshest impact of the pandemic was felt by people already experiencing inequities as a result of socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, education, occupation, migrant status, disability, discrimination, and other factors. These individuals are disproportionately vulnerable to exposure to the disease, less able to access the health services they need, and more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic. Therefore, some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others – entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work, play, and age.
These elements, often referred to as the social determinants of health, are non medical factors that influence health outcomes. Inequities undermine our efforts to protect, promote and improve health for all. They also threaten social and economic development worldwide. COVID-19 has instilled a sense of urgency for state and non-state actors and communities to act together to address health inequities, and improve the social, economic, and environmental determinants of health.
As we celebrate World Health Day 2021, we call on policy-makers to strengthen collaboration across sectors, embed health in all policies, raise awareness, and catalyze public advocacy to address health inequities. We also advocate for sustaining the momentum in implementing a primary health care reorganization to bring services closer to communities.
WHO Sri Lanka’s planned activities for World Health Day 2021 include a collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, who have amplified the World Health Day theme through a photography competition and exhibition that highlights five key themes of health equity: (1) cultural diversity, (2) disability, (3) our environment, (4) living with COVID-19, and (5) caring for the vulnerable. The Medical Faculty has also initiated homegrown solutions to address inequities in vulnerable communities by conducting community-based projects led by students focusing on the social determinants of health.
WHO Sri Lanka is also hosting a virtual event from 3pm – 4pm on the 7th of April which features videos from senior officials in the Ministry of Health, the UN, and WHO, as well as video clips from Sri Lankans across the island. The event aims to highlight ongoing work and inspire others to engage in future health equity activities. Finally, WHO Sri Lanka is running an ongoing campaign to feature voices from across Sri Lanka on health equity. The campaign will run on WHO Sri Lanka social media pages (@WHOSriLanka) in the coming weeks and months. We invite everyone to join this the year-long campaign for a fairer and healthier world