Help us celebrate World Health Day! It’s this coming Wednesday, April 7th. Mark your calendars and spread the word!
What is World Health Day? It’s a globally celebrated day, founded by WHO (World Health Organization) to mark its inception in 1945.
The World Health Organization is an international organization independent from any governments or countries. Starting in 1950 – and ever since – a different theme is picked. Different themes are selected each year, not only to highlight current events and concerns but also to expand the interest and knowledge base of world citizens everywhere about global health concerns.
The World Health Organization is the global leading authority within the United Nations System. Its 6 point mission plan:
- Promote development by addressing poverty – a direct link to poor health
- Fosters Health Security – reducing health security by reducing risks of new, existing and mutating diseases
- Strengthens Health Systems – addressing funding efforts, access to drugs and technology, data collection and trained medical staff.
- Harnesses information, research projects and evidence – using evidence for setting health priorities and strategies.
- Enhances partnerships – working to enhance or partner with other health organizations around the world.
- Improves performance – working to improve the performance of WHO itself.
The theme for 2021 is “protecting health from climate change”. The day is dedicated to spreading awareness of this specific global health issue.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) includes this on their website regarding climate change and health concerns.
Climate change, together with other natural and human-made health stressors, influences human health and disease in numerous ways. Some existing health threats will intensify and new health threats will emerge. Not everyone is equally at risk. Important considerations include age, economic resources, and location.
In the U.S., public health can be affected by disruptions of physical, biological, and ecological systems, including disturbances originating here and elsewhere. The health effects of these disruptions include increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injuries and premature deaths related to extreme weather events, changes in the prevalence and geographical distribution of food- and water-borne illnesses and other infectious diseases, and threats to mental health.
Specifically, these are the nine categories of climate change affecting the health status:
- Air Pollution (resulting in asthma and cardiovascular diseases)
- Allergens and Pollens (resulting in asthma and allergies)
- Diseases caused by Vectors which are fleas, ticks and mosquitos (resulting in Malaria, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, etc.)
- Food and Waterborne Diarrheal Disease (resulting in diarrheal disease, malnutrition and starvation)
- Mental health stress and PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder (experienced by survivors of floods, wildfires, etc.)
- Temperature Extremes (resulting in frostbite, heat exhaustion and death)
- Food security
The last 3 categories, apart from the immediate, obvious health consequences and injuries result in far greater and longer lasting situations affecting the health of large groups of people, sometimes lasting intergenerationally. Floods, wildfires, food scarcity (and really any disabling climate change) often results in civil and environmental degradation leading to forced migration, civil conflict, PTSD, food scarcity and inadequate health care access.
In summary, remember that when we save our climate, we save ourselves and that of our global communities. Thank you, World Health Organization, for bringing this year’s theme to our awareness. Please spread the word.
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