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Opinion Pieces, Blogs Address World Health Day

To mark the anniversary of the founding of the WHO in 1948, the international community on April 7 observed World Health Day. This year’s theme was high blood pressure, or hypertension. The following is a summary of opinion pieces and blog posts addressing the day.

  • Françoise Castex, Devex: “This year on World Health Day, I call upon our leaders to address one of the major issues that the [U.N. High-Level Panel tasked with designing the framework for international development that will follow the Millennium Development Goals] chose not to include in its communiqué from Bali,” Castex, a member of the European Parliament, writes. “We must remember how vital the human right of our women and girls to health and equality is, ensuring that it is placed at the heart of the future of international development,” she continues (4/6).
  • Eric Goosby, U.S. State Department’s “DipNote“: “As we recognize World Health Day today, we are reminded that disease knows no borders and that we share a common interest in global health concerns including seeing a generation without AIDS, ending preventable child deaths, and building and strengthening sustainable health systems to meet the health challenges that affect us all,” Goosby, head of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Health Diplomacy and the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, writes. “The U.S. government has been and will continue to be a leading contributor to achieve these goals, and the investment of the American people is having enormous impact,” he writes, and details some of these efforts (4/7).
  • Naveen Rao, Huffington Post “Impact“: “World Health Day, April 7, marks an important opportunity to shed light on the significant, but often overlooked, role that private providers and health businesses can play in public health,” Rao, the lead of Merck for Mothers, writes in a post co-authored by Frederik Kristensen, senior adviser for the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. “By supporting private providers and health businesses in innovative ways, we have an opportunity to save more lives and keep more people healthy,” they continue, and highlight their new report (.pdf), “Fostering Healthy Businesses: Delivering Innovations in Maternal and Child Health,” which recommends “several concrete steps we can take to help healthy businesses to take root, serve hard-to-reach groups and grow in ways that will help to address some of the world’s most pressing health challenges” (4/5).
  • Marion Roche, Huffington Post Canada “Impact“: “Events like World Health Day are an excellent way to focus on prevention and get a groundswell of support and messages out there to reduce chronic conditions like high blood pressure,” but “sometimes in our day-to-day public health work, the way we deliver messages can create more obstacles than we realize,” Roche, a technical adviser for the Micronutrient Initiative, writes. She describes research collected as part of a Grand Challenges Canada project in Guatemala, which focuses on health messages aimed at the mothers of sick children, and continues, “Public health clients should be respected and offered carefully chosen health messages that meet their needs and current worries. … The right message at the wrong time could negatively impact health promotion efforts — and raise anyone’s blood pressure” (4/6).
  • Tim Roosen, Action for Global Health blog: World Health Day “invites us to reflect on public health in the world,” Roosen, coordinator of the Action for Global Health network, writes. “Despite global progress in recent years in health care provision, in 2013 governments of developing countries (and certainly the 48 poorest countries) will not have sufficient domestic resources to provide the minimum primary health care for their population, pay for minimum quality health services, engage health workers and have quality basic drugs available,” he continues. “International aid is required to assist these countries,” he writes, noting that a recent report from the OECD noting declining assistance. He adds, “Together with the WHO, we can mobilize political will” to improve health care worldwide (4/5).
  • Debbie Wolfe, Huffington Post Canada “Impact“: “[O]n the eve of World Health Day this Sunday, girls and boys in Ethiopia are among the developing world’s most fortunate,” Wolfe of World Vision writes, and discusses progress in the country versus in other “fragile states.” “We can’t abandon the world’s most vulnerable children and mothers, particularly as we’re seeing how well even the simplest health interventions can work to save lives,” she continues, adding, “We need to at least start by giving children in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan a chance to live the privileges of life in Ethiopia” (4/7).