World Health Day underscores urgency of universal access to quality healthcare

Hyderabad, April 7: In the pursuit of health equity and universal access to quality healthcare, the World Health Organization (WHO) is celebrating April 7 as World Health Day with the theme ‘My Health My Right’.

This year’s theme resonates deeply amidst escalating global health challenges, underscoring the imperative of safeguarding every individual’s fundamental right to health, say healthcare professionals.

They called for reaffirming our commitment to championing the fundamental right to health for all individuals. “By fostering inclusive healthcare systems, prioritising preventive measures, fostering and incentivising an active lifestyle and advocating for environmental stewardship, we can pave the way towards a healthier and more resilient future for generations to come,” they said.

Across the globe, billions of individuals find their right to health imperilled by a myriad of threats, ranging from environmental crises to inadequate healthcare access. The toll of disease and disability continues to escalate, exacerbated by conflicts, disasters, and the pervasive scourge of air pollution. Shockingly, one life succumbs to the adverse effects of air pollution every five seconds, underscoring the urgent need for decisive action to mitigate environmental hazards and safeguard public health.

While strides have been made with 140 countries recognising health as a basic human right, millions still find themselves without access to essential healthcare services. The lack of comprehensive healthcare legislation and implementation gaps further exacerbate disparities, leaving vulnerable populations marginalised and underserved.

In 2021 alone, over 4.5 billion individuals, representing more than half of the world’s population, were left without access to essential health services, highlighting the urgent need for concerted efforts to bridge existing gaps.

Embracing the ‘My Health My Right’ theme, the World Health Organization underscores the pivotal role of equitable access to quality medical care in achieving health for all. Essential components such as medical services, adequate information, safe drinking water, clean air, good nutrition, quality housing, and a discrimination-free environment form the cornerstone of comprehensive healthcare, ensuring that every individual can exercise their right to health without discrimination or financial barriers.

Dr. S. Ramesh, Consultant Neurosurgeon, Minimal Access Brain & Spine Surgeon, Kamineni Hospital, emphasises the indispensable role of health insurance in ensuring universal access to quality healthcare. “Health insurance is not just a financial safeguard but a fundamental enabler of equitable access to healthcare services. By ensuring coverage for all individuals, irrespective of their socioeconomic status, we can dismantle barriers to healthcare access and pave the way for a healthier, more resilient society.”

Furthermore, the pervasive impact of lifestyle-related diseases underscores the imperative of prioritising preventive measures, with physical exercise emerging as a potent tool in combating prevalent health challenges. Dr. A. Santosh Kumar, Sr. Consultant Nephrologist & Transplant Physician, Kamineni Hospital, underscores, “Amidst the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles, prioritising regular physical exercise is paramount. By fostering an active lifestyle, we can mitigate the prevalence of lifestyle-related ailments such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, thereby promoting holistic well-being.”

Echoing these sentiments, Dr. B. Kishore Reddy, Chief Ortho Oncologist and MD, Amor Hospital, highlights the detrimental effects of air pollution on public health, advocating for proactive measures to mitigate environmental hazards. “The pervasive presence of air pollution poses a grave threat to human health, permeating both indoor and outdoor environments. Embracing protective measures such as wearing masks and minimising exposure to pollutants is imperative to safeguarding our collective well-being.”

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