World Health Day
The World Health Organization (WHO) has celebrated World Health Day on April 7th since 1950 to shine a light on critical global health issues. Over the years, themes have ranged from mental health issues and infectious diseases to food safety, climate change and creating healthy cities.
Health impacts every aspect of our life and in turn drives economic growth and productivity of nations. With increased globalization and commercialization, healthcare is sometimes viewed as an individualistic, market-dominated industry, when more focus must be on the shared responsibility among various agents and stakeholders within communities. COVID-19 has shown us that living in isolation without compassion or care for those around us leads to suboptimal outcomes for everyone. One person’s negligence or miscommunication can impact their various circles of influence, creating a ripple effect of disease. Fighting health-related challenges is everyone’s problem.
Some pertinent health concerns today are inequality and gender gaps – two areas that TeachAids has passionately focused on since our inception. Challenges such as inequitable vaccine distribution, unaffordable access to treatment options, even the lack of basic amenities such as education, employment, and housing for those living with HIV/AIDS are still pressing issues today. Another often-understated problem is that of sex differences (which predisposes women to the risk of HIV or makes them more vulnerable to domestic violence as was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic) in the context of health research and provision. Children are also left out of important conversations surrounding their well-being and their rights. Much of these issues persist because of systemic problems in social and industrial organizations. The very same systems that underlie racism and wage inequality are the ones that govern health issues.
It is necessary therefore to think of healthcare with a wider more inclusive lens. With an innovative approach and a multidisciplinary team, TeachAids has consistently worked to eliminate bias and barriers surrounding gender, age, culture and literacy. With our science-backed research and demographically sensitive products, those who have suffered for years in regions with systemic discrimination are able to acquire the tools and information they need to help break this cycle of inequality.
Building a wholesome, healthier society begins when people respond and react with compassion to those in disadvantaged or vulnerable positions. It takes great passion on our part to stand amidst the gap and advocate for education and inclusion. In India for instance, just through creating space for an open dialogue, some parents and teachers who were in favor of the school-level expulsion of HIV-positive children were able to transition to willing supporters.
We must work towards being better advocates and stand up for things that aren’t right, even if it doesn’t appear to directly affect us at all equally. We must continue our efforts to address health issues across the spectrum. According to NACO estimates, approximately 23.19 lakh Indians are still living with HIV in 2020. Concussions, too, are thought of as an individual, ‘invisible’ health issue, with about 50% of cases going unreported. While safety education will tell you to ‘Put Your Own Oxygen Mask On First’, we mustn’t forget to follow through on the second part, which is to support and assist those around us.
COVID-19 has demonstrated the need to act responsibly to control disease spread, to express understanding instead of propagating stigma and to take the initiative to educate our neighbors and communities. We have had to rely on each other to be safe and healthy through testing, isolating and vaccinations during the course of this pandemic – this has reinforced the truth that public health is, and must continue to be, a collective effort.
At TeachAids, we are committed to highlighting the need for increased access to equality as well as developing nuanced tools and educational material. Our passion continues to be the promotion and championing of physical, mental and emotional well-being for every individual.