World Health Day is celebrated on April 7th every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO (World Health Organization). This day provides us with a unique opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. According to WHO’s website:
“Our goal is to build a better, healthier future for people all over the world. Working through offices in more than 150 countries, WHO staff work side by side with governments and other partners to ensure the highest attainable level of health for all people.
Together we strive to combat diseases – infectious diseases like influenza and HIV and noncommunicable ones like cancer and heart disease. We help mothers and children survive and thrive so they can look forward to a healthy old age. We ensure the safety of the air people breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink – and the medicines and vaccines they need.”
The theme of 2017 World Health Day campaign is depression. You can check out the campaign toolkit here.
Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds.
Yet, depression can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of what depression is, and how it can be prevented and treated, will help reduce the stigma associated with the condition, and lead to more people seeking help.
Depression is a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, and poor concentration (WHO 2012). Globally more than 300 million people suffer from it. Women are affected by depression twice than men. Depression can lead to suicide. Depression can produce huge economical and social burden also. The WHO characterizes depression as:
- By persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.
- Loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
- Something that can happen to anybody.
- Not a sign of weakness.
- Treatable, with talking therapies or antidepressant medication or a combination of these.
What You Can Do
The WHO organizes international, regional and local events on the Day related to a particular theme. World Health Day is acknowledged by various governments and non-governmental organizations with interests in public health issues, who also organize activities and highlight their support in media reports. Examples of events include conferences for health worksers, briefings for local politicians, and informational displays for children and young people. Public marches and demonstrations, as well as free or easy access to medical tests, can also take place on the day. Check out how you can get involved here.