World Health Day this year is a special one. It marks the 70th iteration of this global celebration, as well as the 70th birthday of the World Health Organisation. It is also special as this year is also the 40th anniversary of the Alma-Ata declaration, identifying primary health care as the key to the attainment of Health for All. It marks that 2018 will be a year of action, to achieve Universal Health Coverage in our lifetime.

However, closer to home, this year is also the 70th birthday of our beloved NHS. As highlighted by Director-General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, today from the epicentre of #WHD2018 celebrations in Sri Lanka, our NHS is a world-leading example for Universal Health Coverage (or UHC) and the vision that, in the darkness of post World War II grieving and austerity, the UK said that “no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means”.

This powerful message from, then Minister for Health, Aneurin Bevan has inspired the world and is still used by politicians across the world to inspire their countries that health for all is not a luxury, it is more than a possibility, it is a human right.

However, every year, 100 million people across the world are pushed into extreme poverty because of out-of-pocket expenditures on health. This harrowing fact is one of the reasons that achieving UHC is included in the 3rd United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (Students for Global Health’s Coordinated Theme for the 2017/18 year).

Our vision is of ‘a fair and just world in which equity in health is a reality for all’ and World Health Day is about moving towards that principle, towards Universal Health Coverage. UHC raises some questions. As ever in global health, there are reasons to look beyond and behind the plans to search for more, ways to improve, to help more people, to do better. Our Patron and Editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, has released this editorial on World Health Day and it is worth reading.

Our role today, as a group of advocates, is to inspire and encourage the world to believe that UHC is achievable and necessary and to protect its principles where they are being dismantled around us. We are the future of global health, and now we must fight for it.

Finally, I leave you with words from International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations Vice-President for External Affairs, Batool Wahdani, at the UHC Forum in Tokyo.

Happy World Health Day


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s