In recent years, countries in the Western Pacific have experienced rapid economic growth, migration and urbanisation. This created opportunities for better lives for many, but left others behind. The COVID-19 pandemic has undercut recent health gains, pushed more people into poverty and food insecurity, and amplified gender, social and health inequities.
This year's World Health Day (April 7) campaign is calling for action to eliminate health inequities, as part of a year-long global campaign to bring people together to build a fairer, healthier world. The world is still an unequal one. The places where we live, work and play may make it harder for some to reach their full health potential, while others thrive. Health inequities are not only unjust and unfair, but they also threaten the advances made to date, and have the potential to widen rather than narrow equity gaps.
However, health inequities are preventable with strategies that place greater attention to improving health equity, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalised groups. COVID-19 has hit all countries hard, but its impact has been harshest on those communities which were already vulnerable, who are more exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality health care services and more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.
Leaders must ensure that communities are at the forefront in decision-making processes as we move forward to a new future, and that everyone has living and working conditions that are conducive to good health. At the same time, leaders are urged to monitor health inequities, and to ensure that all people can access quality health services depending on their needs and values within their communities.
Source: World Health Organisation (WHO)