Tuesday, April 17, 2018

When good health is out of reach, poverty takes an even deeper hold

Health For All

Health For All is a programming goal of the World Health Organization (WHO), which envisions securing the health and wellbeing of people around the world that has been popularized since the 1970s. It is the basis for the World Health Organization’s primary health care strategy to promote health, human dignity, and enhanced quality of life.


Halfdan Mahler, Director General (1973-1983) of the WHO, defined Health For All in 1981, as follows:

Health For All means that health is to be brought within reach of everyone in a given country. And by “health” is meant a personal state of wellbeing, not just the availability of health services – a state of health that enables a person to lead a socially and economically productive life. Health For All implies the removal of the obstacles to health – that is to say, the elimination of malnutrition, ignorance, contaminated drinking water and unhygienic housing – quite as much as it does the solution of purely medical problems such as a lack of doctors, hospital beds, drugs and vaccines.

• Health For All means that health should be regarded as an objective of economic development and not merely as one of the means of attaining it.

• Health For All demands, ultimately, literacy for all. Until this becomes reality it demands at least the beginning of an understanding of what health means for every individual.

• Health For All depends on continued progress in medical care and public health. The health services must be accessible to all through primary health care, in which basic medical help is available in every village, backed up by referral services to more specialized care. Immunization must similarly achieve universal coverage.

• Health For All is thus a holistic concept calling for efforts in agriculture, industry, education, housing, and communications, just as much as in medicine and public health. Medical care alone cannot bring health to in hovels. Health for such people requires a whole new way of life and fresh opportunities to provide themselves with a higher standard of living.

The adoption of Health For All by government, implies a commitment to promote the advancement of all citizens on a broad front of development and a resolution to encourage the individual citizen to achieve a higher quality of life.

The rate of progress will depend on the political will. The World Health Assembly believes that, given a high degree of determination, Health For All could be attained by the year 2000. That target date is a challenge to all WHO’s Member States.

The basis of the Health For All strategy is primary health care.

Two decades later, WHO Director General Lee Jong-wok (2003–2006) reaffirmed the concept in the World Health Report 2003:

Health for all became the slogan for a movement. It was not just an ideal but an organizing principle: everybody needs and is entitled to the highest possible standard of health.

The principles remain indispensable for a coherent vision of global health. Turning that vision into reality calls for clarity both on the possibilities and on the obstacles that have slowed and in some cases reversed progress towards meeting the health needs of all people. We have a real opportunity now to make progress that will mean longer, healthier lives for millions of people, turn despair into realistic hope, and lay the foundations for improved health for generations to come.

The World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on 7 April, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as other related organizations.

In 1948, the WHO held the First World Health Assembly. The Assembly decided to celebrate 7 April of each year, with effect from 1950, as the World Health Day. The World Health Day is held to mark WHO’s founding, and is seen as an opportunity by the organization to draw worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health each year.

The WHO organizes international, regional and local events on the Day related to a particular theme. World Health Day is acknowledged by various governments and non-governmental organizations with interests in public health issues, who also organize activities and highlight their support in media reports, such as the Global Health Council.[2]

World Health Day is one of eight official global health campaigns marked by WHO, along with World Tuberculosis Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World AIDS Day, World Blood Donor Day, and World Hepatitis D

WHO global health day

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.

What World Health Day can do?

Some countries have already made significant progress towards universal health coverage. But half the world’s population is still unable to obtain the health services they need. If countries are to achieve the SDG target, one billion more people need to benefit from UHC by 2023.

World Health Day will shine a spotlight on the need for UHC - and the advantages it can bring. WHO and its partners will share examples of steps to take to get there through a series of events and conversations held at multiple levels.

As our Director-General has said “No one should have to choose between death and financial hardship. No one should have to choose between buying medicine and buying food.”

Throughout 2018, we aim to inspire, motivate and guide UHC stakeholders to make commitments towards UHC:

• Inspire - by highlighting policy-makers’ power to transform the health of their nation, framing the challenge as exciting and ambitious, and inviting them to be part of the change.

• Motivate - by sharing examples of how countries are already progressing towards UHC and encourage others to find their own path.

• Guide - by providing tools for structured policy dialogue on how to advance UHC domestically or supporting such efforts in other countries (e.g. expanding service coverage, improving quality of services, reducing out-of-pocket payments).

Theme, slogan and hashtag

• The theme of World Health Day is: Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere.

• The slogan is “Health for All”.

• The primary hashtag that we are using is #Health For All but look out for posts using #World Health Day as well.

Countdown to World Health Day, 7 April 2018

Key messages for World Health Day 2018

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.

• Mission

• Healthcare delivery in rural areas depends on reliable transport and the vehicles used need to be systematically selected and maintained. Motorcycle Outreach is a UK-registered charity which assists governmental and non-governmental organizations with this.

• Access to basic community healthcare is an essential and often forgotten need. Visits by healthcare professionals to remote villages improve child health monitoring, maternal and infant mortality and overall community awareness of basic health issues such as routine vaccinations and early detection of malnutrition. Reliable transport options greatly magnify the reach and effectiveness of existing healthcare professionals.

For further information WHO and UN website about world for all, send email to, Text to DR AZADEH on 002207774469/3774469

Author: DR AZADEH Senior Lecturer at the University of the Gambia, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Clinical Director Medicare Health Services.

Source: Picture: Dr Azadeh