TEHRAN (Iran News) –The World Health Day 2021 was commemorated jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME) on Wednesday, April 7 in Tehran.
This year, with the theme of ‘Building a Fairer, Healthier World’, the day is drawing attention to the numerous barriers that stand between people and calls for urgent action to eliminate health inequities and mobilize action to attain better health for all.
Our world is an unequal one, and some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work and age. In addition to pre-existing gaps, the COVID-19 has introduced further inequalities, leaving the harshest impacts on those communities already vulnerable, who are more exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality healthcare services and more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.
“Health is a fundamental human right. Every person deserves to live a healthy life regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, disability, economic situation, or employment. Progress in tackling health disparities has been slow worldwide, including in the Eastern Mediterranean Region in which many countries are experiencing emergencies and conflict and we have the largest number of displaced people in the world,” said Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO, Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean in his message for World Health Day 2021.
The global inequities are not new. Even as the world has seen improvements in average levels of health and life expectancy, these gains have not been shared equally across different sections of societies within and across nations. This is not fair but is preventable. That is why WHO is calling on world leaders to ensure that everyone has living and working conditions that are conducive to good health.
“All over the world, inequality, stigma and discrimination are, and have always been, drivers of diseases of all kinds,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Zero Discrimination Day on March 1. “We must remember that for millions of people, COVID-19 is just one threat they face on a daily basis.”
Over the past decade, Iran has made noteworthy strides towards health equity in the country and put efforts towards achieving Universal Health Coverage by enhancement of financial risk protection with more access to quality of care. Therefore, more than 90% of the country’s population, including in rural areas, now benefits from health insurance that covers 70% of outpatient and 90% of inpatient services offered at public diagnostic and medical centers. Services delivered at Primary Healthcare Centers and pre-hospital care are free of charge.
WHO is working with the Government of Iran to ensure health equity for all and is supporting the county’s national measures while helping the healthcare system to access and use all available domestic and international resources and make sure no one is left behind.
One of such efforts was the launching of the Iran COVID-19 Emergency Response Project (ICERP) on 16 June 2020. The project is a close collaboration between WHO and MOHME and financed by the World Bank at $USD 50 million. To help tighten the gap in the availability of diagnostic and medical equipment by procuring and delivering a total of 316 medical devices and 135 laboratory machines and their consumables to 45 laboratories across 31 provinces.
Working to tackle the root causes of inequity, last week, the WHO Regional Office launched the report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. “This report provides detailed analysis of inequities among and within countries of the Region and recommends fairer policies and actions to achieve health equity. I call on all our partners and stakeholders to take these recommendations forward,” noted Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari.
The regional “Vision 2023: Health for all by all: a call for action and solidarity”, is aligned with this year’s theme and achieving health for all by all is essential to meet the challenges of today and to build the resilience of tomorrow.