World Health Day, established by the World Health Organisation in 1948 and celebrated every year on April 7, looks to raise awareness for a particular health theme every year.
It should come as no surprise that World Health Day 2021 focuses on COVID-19, with a campaign designed to build a fairer, healthier world.
COVID-19 continues to highlight the disadvantages third-world countries face regarding vaccinations, personal protective equipment, and health care services more generally. Leaders are being called upon by the WHO to make sure that equity in healthcare is the focal point of the COVID-19 road to recovery.
Working together, collecting reliable data, tackling inequalities, and acting beyond borders are the four main areas of the campaign’s focus.
The WHO also looks to highlight a particular health theme every year. Due to the unprecedented impacts of the pandemic, the International Year of Health and Care Workers (YHCW) recognises the hard work and sacrifices made by health and care workers around the globe.
The overarching goal of the campaign is not only to recognise the contributions made by health and care workers but to ensure these people are prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccine in the first 100days of 2021.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said protecting the people who protect others is the right and smart thing to do.
“Health and care workers have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, but are often under-protected and overexposed,” he said.
“They need vaccines now.
“They and their families have already paid an extremely high price in this pandemic.”
There are several ways you can look to participate in the World Health Organisation’s themes, be it day or year, starting at a local level:
● As an individual, you can express your ideas and opinions to local policymakers, politicians, and ministers regarding health matters.
● You can host any number of events that help stimulate discussion and raise awareness on a particular topic. Concerts, rallies, marches, or debates are just a few ideas.
● You can look to volunteer for charities, not-for-profit organisations, or businesses that look to champion change and/or support those with limited access to health care needs.
The health of a nation, its economy, and its businesses
As we focus on World Health Day, we also take a look at the impacts poor health outcomes have on Australia's economy, its businesses, and its people. Even as a developed nation there are steps we can take to ensure greater health outcomes. You can apply any one of the points above to champion change.
As a nation
The good news? Australians are living longer. Our country performs as well as or better than many other comparable countries on selected measures of health, such as life expectancy. Despite this, data shows that almost half of Australians had one or more chronic conditions in 2017–2018.
Lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, obesity, and dietary risks all contribute heavily towards poorer health outcomes in Australia.
Impacts of health on the economy and businesses
The cost of sick leave alone in Australia costs the country’s economy a hefty $7 billion each year, according to a report released by The Australian Industry Group in 2015.
According to an article published by The Australian, sick leave costs small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in New South Wales $26,536 in productivity, Queensland $20,510, Victoria $16,406, South Australia $15,612, and Western Australia $5103.
Absenteeism not only costs a business money, but it also impacts productivity, morale, workloads and product quality.
The mental health of employees also feeds into the number of days lost due to illness.
On average each year between 2012–2013 to 2016–2017, 7,140 Australians were compensated for work-related mental health conditions, according to Safe Work Australia.
The main causes of serious mental health condition claims were work pressure, work-related harassment or bullying, and exposure to workplace or occupational violence.
The South Australian Government has some great insights and information to help create healthy workplaces.