World Health Day 2018
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World Health Day 2018 List of Themes

Each year, the world celebrates World Health Day on April 7th. This year’s theme will focus on Universal Health Coverage, encouraging awareness on the lack of access to basic health services around the globe. Annually, the World Health Organization determines a particular theme. It defines the most relevant health issues at the time. For a better understanding of what World Health Day 2018 entails, let’s take a look at the World Health Day 2018 historical list of themes for the day.

World Health Day 2018 List of Themes Since 1996

The global community is putting forth a strong effort to make basic health services available for everybody. We understand that this is a challenging task and framed within a complexity of contexts and realities. This is why celebrating World Health Day 2018 is important to advance the health care agenda. Over the past 23 years, the following have been that year’s central theme:

  • 1995: Global Polio Eradication – The first half of the 20th century was marked by polio pandemics in Europe, North America, and Oceania. A polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s and has since led to the near eradication of the disease. That said, cases still spark up occasionally around the globe.
  • 1996: Healthy Cities for Better Life – Tthe WHO has promoted Health Cities initiatives since the 1980s, with a focus on creating physical and social environments for a healthier lifestyle. 100s of cities around the world joined the 1996 initiative through public commitments, healthy urbanizations initiatives, and more.
  • 1997: Emerging Infectious DiseasesAn emerging, infectious disease refers to infections that were previously not known or not identified. Some of these continue to sound familiar today, while the alarms went off back in 1997. Among them are HIV, hantavirus, and Ebola. International Health Day 1997 encouraged better surveillance and control of communicable diseases.
  • 1998: Safe MotherhoodIn 1998, rates of maternal mortality was one of the main gaps seen between developed and developing nations. Representing nearly 600,000 annual deaths, this issue was chosen as the central theme to raise awareness and promote better practices to protect the lives of new mothers, particularly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 1999: Active Aging Makes the Difference – With a increasingly aging population, health promotion for the elderly plays an important role. In 1999, WHO attributed Active Aging as the main theme for International Health Day to promote healthier lifestyles for aging populations and engage communities around the globe.
  • 2000: Safe Blood Starts with Me – In light of the fact that many countries continued to lack safe blood supplies for emergency situations, the WHO launched the Safe Blood Starts with Me Campaign. This campaign sought to encourage awareness around safe blood, promote blood testing, and encourage safe and available blood for all.
  • 2001: Mental Health: Stop Exclusion, Dare to CareStigma often surrounds mental health issues. For this reason, the WHO focussed on the theme of mental health in order to influence public opinion and prevent discrimination.
  • 2002: Move for Health – One of the major concerns around the world is the spike in non-communicable diseases. These are partly attributed to the changing, more sedentary lifestyles. The day promoted more physically active living, better diets, and a reduction in the use of tobacco.
  • 2003: Shape the Future of Life: Healthy Environments for ChildrenIn 2003, statistics showed there were 5 million deaths of children under 15 which resulted from their environments. As such, World Health Day 2003 promoted improvement in the environments that children grow up in to promote their health.
  • 2004: Road Safety – Often disregarded as a health issue, road accidents killed 1.2 million people per year in 2004. World Health Day 2004 centered on promoting a systems approach to promoting road safety to reduce the number of deaths from traffic accidents.
  • 2005: Make Every Mother and Child Count – According to 2005 statistics, 11 million children were dying annually from largely preventable causes, while many mothers were at risk as well. In 2005, WHO promoted better access to healthcare for mothers and children to prevent these deaths.
  • 2006: Working Together for Health – Health is a global issue. As such, partnerships are essential in ensuring more universal health coverage. Working Together for Health encouraged a more integrated approach to global health.
  • 2007: International Health Security – In a globalizing world with continuous movement of people and therefore diseases, health can pose a threat to international security. International Health Security Day 2007 promoted a global outlook on making our planet more secure from health threats.
  • 2008: Protecting Health from the Adverse Effects of Climate Change – With climate change causing new and stronger instances of natural disasters, elevated pollution, and other potential health risks, WHO promoted a stronger focus in addressing climate change in terms of health.
  • 2009: Save Lives, Make Hospitals Safe in EmergenciesThere is an essential need for hospitals and healthcare in disasters. However, they themselves are not immune from adverse effects. In 2009, WHO encouraged looking at stronger and more resilient infrastructures for hospitals to provide much-needed services in emergencies.
  • 2010: Urbanization and Health: Make Cities Healthier – In 2010, nearly 50% of the world’s population was living in urban centers. This has serious impacts on collective health with influences such as pollution, violence, communicable disease, and more. In 2010, WHO encouraged governments at all levels to promote healthier urban policies.
  • 2011: Antimicrobial Resistance: No Action Today, No Cure Tomorrow – Each year, more and more cases of drug-resistance are registered around the world. This means that antibiotics stop being effective in fighting diseases. World Health Day 2011 urged for consolidated global action to prevent antimicrobial resistance through effective strategies.
  • 2012: Good Health Adds Life to YearsWith rapidly aging populations, it is important to ensure healthier lifestyles for all. This needs to be done to prevent non-communicable diseases and promote a better quality of life for all ages.
  • 2013: Hypertension: Silent Killer, Global Public Health Crisis – In 2013, 40% of adults over the age of 25 experienced higher than normal blood pressure. 17.3 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2008. WHO encouraged urgent steps towards preventing non-communicable diseases, particularly hypertension through healthier lifestyles and policy.
  • 2014: Vector-borne Diseases: Small Bite, Big Threat – Mosquitos, flies, ticks, and other vectors often carry deadly diseases through their bites. These include malaria, dengue, Lyme disease, yellow fever, and many others. In 2014, the WHO promoted the need to ensure focused prevention strategies for these types of health threats.
  • 2015: Food Safety – Contaminated food and drinking water can cause up to 2 million deaths each year. World Health Day 2015 promoted active, cross-border approaches to provide safe supply chains for food around the world.
  • 2016: Halt the Rise: Beat DiabetesSince 1980, there are 4 times more people living with diabetes around the world. Most of them live in developing countries. In light of this, the 2016 theme for focused on raising awareness around the issue and prevent the spread of diabetes.
  • 2017: Depression: Let’s Talk – The latest statistics show that nearly 300,000 million people around the world are living with depression today. However, few access real care due to stigma, prejudice, and lack of investment. The WHO promoted awareness around this issue and encouraged more investment and better care for those suffering from depression.
  • 2018: Universal Health Coverage – This year’s slogan is “Health for All.” Nearly half of the world’s population lacks access to basic healthcare. The WHO and its partners are working to ensure that 1 billion more people have access to health services by 2023.

More Info on Global Health

Healthy societies are more productive, more secure, and allow for better equality. That’s why health persists as one of the top priorities in global development. Governments, international partners, the private sector, and not-for-profit organizations around the world continue to invest knowledge, time, and money to improve healthcare around the world. Despite these efforts, many challenges abound including air pollution, migration, food security, violence, access, equality, and resources. But through active participation, continuous awareness-raising, and strong convictions, the world health community continues to improve the global health situation.

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