Respecting the value of good health

8th April 2021

UKZN Extended Learning

– by Nkosingiphile Ntshangase

On the 7thof April, we celebrated World Health Day. This international campaign raises awareness about various critical health and wellness topics. It emphasises the World Health Organisation’s constitutional principle that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”[1]  This year, the focus is on “building a fairer, healthier world for everyone” and is inspired by the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The world is changing at a rapid rate. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented opportunities, such as in the technology fields, allowing some to start affording a better quality of life. For example, to keep fit, you can now join your favourite exercise class directly from your home. In the same breath, the pandemic has also presented a new set of challenges. For example, the unemployment rate has been increasing since the start of COVID-19. This pushes people into poverty and food insecurity, having a ripple effect on social and health inequities.

Society today is full of inequalities with prominent political and economic disparities; thus, having access to amenities is key to thriving in almost any environment. Despite improvements in health outcomes, these advancements have not been distributed equally, and this has the potential to further widen equity gaps, which is already unjust and unfair. With practical strategies and planning emphasising the accommodation of vulnerable groups, more health inequalities could be preventable or significantly minimised as a result. Many people have been affected by the pandemic, but those who felt it the most were the ones with limited or no access to resources that could help them cope with the virus, such as quality PPE and healthcare facilities.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of collaboration, and the WHO is now calling on healthcare leaders and government officials to include the people in their decision-making processes. The partnership could result in buy-in at all levels, ensuring a healthy population and access to quality healthcare services to combat COVID-19. This can be achieved by recognising the problems and finding the root cause to implement effective and sustainable solutions.

How can you support the World Health Day principles during 2021?

  • Start maintaining a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet
  • Try to get the minimum recommended amount of sleep
  • Practise self-care and de-stressing as much as possible
  • Give your mental health the required attention
  • Try to stay active
  • Be informed about your potential genetic disease predispositions
  • Be conscious about the state of your current health

“Health is your responsibility. Creating health is about revitalising your body, mind, emotions, and life energies to a higher level of functioning” – Sadhguru