The World Health Organization’s theme for World Health Day on 6 March 2021 is “Building a fairer, healthier world”.
Our world is an unequal one
The conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the economic policies and systems, social norms, social policies and political systems shaping the conditions of daily life vary enormously both within and between countries.
According to WHO, these social conditions in which people live are the single most important determinant of good health or ill health and can be more important than health care or lifestyle choices in influencing health.
As an example of the impact of the social determinants of help, we need to be aware that at all levels of income, health and illness follow a social gradient: the lower the socioeconomic position, the worse the health.
On top of this, the Covid-19 pandemic has undercut recent health gains, pushed more people into poverty and food insecurity, and amplified gender, social and health inequities.
“We must address the drivers of health inequity today, to ensure a safer and healthier tomorrow”
Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific
To build a fairer, healthier world for everyone we must call on governments everywhere to not only think about health services but to consider the following non-medical factors that play a crucial role in health outcomes:
- Income and social protection
- Unemployment and job insecurity
- Working life conditions
- Food insecurity
- Housing, basic amenities and the environment
- Early childhood development
- Social inclusion and non-discrimination
- Structural conflict
- Access to affordable health services of decent quality.
In other words, we need a whole-of-government approach across all sectors of society to improve longstanding inequities in health.
That’s why we are calling on leaders to ensure that communities are at the forefront in decision-making processes as we move forward to a new future, and that all people are able to access quality health services depending on their needs and values within their communities.
We urge you to join with WHO to ensure that everyone, everywhere, can realize the right to good health.