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World Health Day

On 7th April, the World Health Organisation (WHO) will celebrate its 75th anniversary. It was formed in 1948 when countries of the world came together to promote health and look after the vulnerable with the aim of ensuring that everyone throughout the world could attain the highest level of health and well-being. The work of WHO is divided into six regions – Africa, Americas, South-East Asia, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific with the head office  based in Geneva. There are 150 offices worldwide representing 194 member states.

The Director General of WHO is currently Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who was appointed in 2017 and re-appointed in 2022. He is elected by the member states, and he leads the work of the organisation in achieving its global health goals.

The current programme of work is the Thirteenth General Programme of Work (GPW 13), which defines WHO’s strategy for the five-year period, 2019-2023. It focuses on the triple billion targets to achieve measurable impacts on people’s health at the country level. The triple billion targets aim to ensure that by 2023:

  • One billion more people are benefiting from universal health coverage
  • One billion more people are better protected from health emergencies
  • One billion more people are enjoying better health and well-being.

In January 2023, the Director General consulted with the member states to agree an extension for GPW 13 to 2025 as insufficient progress has been made due to the Covid19 pandemic, protracted emergencies, climate action, conflict, etc.

World Health Day 2023 provides an opportunity to celebrate some of the key achievements since its inception in 1948 including:

  • Reduction in Malaria Transmission
  • Eradication of Smallpox
  • Fight Against Tropical Diseases
  • Making Hepatitis C Medication Affordable
  • Bringing Yellow Fever Under Control

 Soroptimists help to promote healthy lives both in our own country and throughout the world by:

  • Making donations to the Red Cross to help those whose lives and health have been severely impacted by the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and other world disasters.
  • Supporting aid workers in Ukraine trying to save lives of the wounded and those whose health has been impacted by lack of clean water and access to medicines. My own region has collected crutches and wheelchairs sending them out through our local fire service, who have been providing firefighting equipment.
  • Befriending those who are feeling lonely and depressed because of COVID-19 or the loss of a loved one.

What else can Soroptimists do to support the work of the World Health Organisation and other organisations striving to improve the health of people worldwide?

  • Support local foodbanks – evidence produced by the Trussell Trust shows that the number of people using foodbanks increased by 20-21% in the period 2020-2021 caused primarily by the COVID-19 pandemic and this figure has continued to increase.
  • Take part in the World Health Organisation 75 Years of Improving Public Health Campaign.

Yvonne Freeman
SI South East England