Good Friday this year is also World Health Day. And on World Health Day 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) will observe its 75th anniversary.
On 7 April 1948, countries around the world came together and founded the WHO to promote health and serve the vulnerable with the aim of everyone, everywhere, being able to attain the highest level of health and wellbeing.
Since that date, World Health Day has been observed on 7 April annually. The celebration has aimed to create awareness each year of a specific health theme to highlight a WHO priority area of concern. In 2022, for instance, the theme was Our Planet Our Health.
The WHO’s 75th anniversary year is an opportunity to look back at some of the public health successes that have improved quality of life during the last seven decades:
- As a result of an unprecedented global partnership, WHO certified smallpox eradicated in 1980, and anticipates the eradication of polio and guinea worm in the next few years.
- WHO has played a pioneering role in delivering vaccinations, with widespread access to vaccines protecting global populations from more than 20 life-threatening diseases. In 2021, a new malaria vaccine – the very first against a parasite – was introduced.
- The WHO has been at the forefront of addressing the increasing risks of climate-related health challenges, establishing a Climate Change and Health Programme in the 1990s.
- The WHO has also been promoting the work of health workers, who have made all these health landmarks happen, from the eradication of smallpox to dramatic progress in delivering HIV treatments. Further promoting the role of health workers – particularly nurses – WHO appointed a Chief Nursing Officer as part of its leadership team in 2017.
The WHO’s 75th anniversary year is also an opportunity to motivate action to tackle the health challenges of today – and tomorrow. Some of the key points the WHO will pursue in 2023 include:
- Promoting increased public financing for health and lowering out-of-pocket health costs.
- Strengthening health systems to deliver both universal health coverage and emergency preparedness.
- Increasing ‘health taxes’ on tobacco, alcohol, added sugar and fossil fuels.
- Investing in education and job creation for the health sector.
What are we, and you, doing?
Many of the WHO’s key priorities for this year align with ANMF projects, policies and priorities. Nationally, for example, the ANMF has been contributing to the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, which aims to improve patient access to primary healthcare by, among other things, lowering costs and making GP access (including out of hours) more affordable.
ANMF federally is also involved in the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care’s nurse practitioner steering committee, which is providing advice and expertise on the development of the nurse practitioner strategic plan to increase community access to health and aged care.
The Branch also has a dedicated environmental health officer who works tirelessly to influence government and support members in their climate change mitigation and environmentally sustainable practice. More details can be found at anmfvic.asn.au/healthenvironmentalsustainability.