World Health Day: Celebrating 72 Years of the World Health Organization

By Amanda Roland
world health day

Your child’s health and wellness begins in the comfort of your own home. You strive to make sure that your child has the best pediatrician and access to healthcare, but what about the families in the third world countries who physically cannot access the same types of medical assistance we have here? Thanks to the World Health Organization (WHO), we can rest easy knowing that strides are being made to give everyone access to a better life.

On April 7th, we celebrate World Health Day, a day in which we celebrate the anniversary of WHO, and honor the difference it has made in the years since it’s very first project. Each year, WHO assigns a theme to World Health Day and 2020’s theme is to recognize the incredible work of nurses and midwives. According to WHO, “nurses and midwives play a key role in caring for people everywhere, including in times of outbreaks and settings that are fragile or in conflict,” which is especially true right now with our current breakout of COVID-19.

The WHO works all over the world to allow families to live healthier lives by combating disease, administering vaccines, working to provide clean drinking water and so much more, something that some of these families could only dream of.

According to the WHO, their Constitution went into effect on Apr. 7, 1948, and now, the organization that’s almost 72 years old has over 7,000 people working in their 150 country offices, six regional offices and at their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO has departments that oversee different departments for accessible health and has a specific vision for each one of them.

The organization has a lot of accomplishments. According to WHO, “6 million fewer children died before they reached their fifth birthday than in 1990, smallpox has been defeated and polio is on the verge of eradication.” These health milestones let families enjoy longer lives together. Also, many countries have removed threats like measles, malaria, tropical diseases and mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. The WHO makes these changes in people’s lives by implementing simple treatments and action plans to get things done.

“The staff of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health strive towards a world in which EVERY woman, newborn, child and adolescent realizes their right to physical and mental health and well-being,” according to WHO.

WHO goes beyond suggesting families get routine immunization –they work with governments and health professionals to go into the communities themselves. With the help of UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and others, the Expanded Program on Immunization brought essential vaccines to many children, and this creates an incentive for parents to start bringing their children to health centers when they are young. Now, the battle is to protect the effectiveness of these new medicines by providing clean, drinkable water and sanitization facilities.

One of the most important aspects of the organization is their ability to share important data across the world, regarding health information. This allows countries to monitor who is affected by what diseases and where, so that action can be taken in places that need the most help. According to WHO, “The ability to collect and analyze data has been critical to WHO’s work to improve health through the life-course – from before birth right through to the last years of life.”

WHO harps on the importance of practicing a healthy lifestyle early on in life to protect you in the future, especially in countries that don’t have access to the best health services. They continue to battle diseases, prevent health risks and work to keep outbreaks from turning into epidemics. According to WHO, “WHO is setting up systems to get help where it’s needed, when it’s needed.”

The World Health Organization has so much to celebrate on its 72nd anniversary. Their work that has helped families and children around the world continues to break ground and save lives today. Their mission and values that were created 70 years ago stand true, and the WHO will never stop working toward the goal of created global access of quality health care for all.

While there is no local chapter of the WHO in Gainesville, FL, there are 149 offices worldwide with an array of opportunities. There is availability for employment and internships as well as junior professional positions for young adults who wish to make a difference across the globe.