Prioritizing Right to Health on World Health Day

April 3, 2024 3:58 pmComments Off on Prioritizing Right to Health on World Health DayViews: 15

As the world marks World Health Day on April 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) turns its attention to the theme of ‘My Health, My Right’. In a world grappling with myriad crises, from diseases to disasters to conflicts and climate change, ensuring every individual’s right to health is more crucial than ever.

Prioritizing Right to Health on World Health Day

The essence of realizing the right to health lies in creating conditions where everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, can access high-quality health facilities, services, and goods. It encompasses not only healthcare but also factors such as education, safe water and food, adequate housing, and favorable working and environmental conditions. These underlying determinants of health are essential for fostering well-being and dignity among populations worldwide.

WHO’s commitment to the right to health is deeply embedded in its mission and enshrined in its Constitution. As the organization commemorates its seventy-sixth year, the progress made in the South-East Asia Region is commendable. From improvements in healthcare service coverage to significant reductions in maternal and under-five mortality rates, the region has seen remarkable strides towards advancing health outcomes.

However, amidst these achievements, significant challenges persist. Nearly 40% of the population in the South-East Asia Region lacks coverage by essential health services, highlighting disparities in access to healthcare. Moreover, inadequate investment in health by national governments has led to high out-of-pocket expenditure, exacerbating financial hardship for households seeking basic healthcare services.

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Tuberculosis mortality rates have surged, and the probability of premature death from major non-communicable diseases remains unacceptably high. Vulnerable groups, including the poorest and marginalized communities, face significant barriers to accessing healthcare, perpetuating health inequities.

Gender inequality further compounds these challenges, affecting access to diagnosis and treatment for non-communicable health conditions. Violence against women and girls remains pervasive, underscoring the urgent need for gender-sensitive interventions in public health initiatives.

Combatting stigma and discrimination related to certain health conditions is essential for fostering inclusive healthcare environments. Upholding principles of equality, non-discrimination, and participation is integral to a human rights-based approach to health, ensuring that everyone has a voice in shaping healthcare policies and decisions.

Governments and duty-bearers must fulfill their obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to health for all individuals. Increasing investments in health, strengthening healthcare systems, and enacting policies that promote equity and accessibility are imperative steps towards achieving universal health coverage grounded in primary healthcare principles.

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As WHO reaffirms its commitment to advancing the right to health, let us join hands to make this vision a reality for every individual. By prioritizing health as a fundamental human right and addressing systemic inequities, we can build healthier, more resilient communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.


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