World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on 7 April. This year’s World Health Day theme is “Our planet, our health” and with this campaign the World Health Organization (WHO) wants governments worldwide and the public to share their stories of the steps they are taking to protect the health of the planet and the people who live here. These stories recount what they are doing to foster sustainable societies focused on their well-being and that of future generations.
In a statement, the WHO said that “our political, social and commercial decisions are driving the climate and health crisis. Over 90% of people breathe unhealthy air resulting from the burning of fossil fuels. The climate crisis is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. The climate crisis is also a health crisis. Breaking these cycles of destruction for the planet and human health requires legislative action, corporate reform and individuals to be supported and incentivised to make healthy choices.”
In October last year, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council passed a resolution reaffirming states’ obligations to protect human rights, including initiating urgent actions with regard to environmental challenges.
According to the UN Environment Programme, these are some of the ways in which a compromised planet is now in turn compromising humans’ right to health:
- The destruction of wild spaces facilitates the emergence of zoonotic diseases (infectious diseases transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa)
- Air pollution reduces humans’ quality of health and lowers life expectancy
- The loss of biodiversity compromises the nutritional value of food
- Biodiversity loss also reduces the efficacy of medicines
- Pollutants are threatening the health of billions worldwide
- Climate change introduces additional risks to the health and safety of all living beings through increasing the probability of droughts, floods and wildfires.
Protecting the planet and your health
As individuals we can make important everyday choices to help reduce our carbon footprint, including reducing waste, recycling, substituting plant-based foods for a diet with preservatives, considering alternative eco-friendly travelling options, and making our homes more energy efficient.
"The health and well-being of every Medihelp members is determined by both internal (biological, genetic) and external (environment, relationships) factors. It is of paramount importance that each member’s journey through life, especially as it relates to health and wellness, is viewed holistically,” says Dr Christo du Preez, Senior Manager Health Innovation at Medihelp.
“Only when we understand all the health influences to which members are exposed, can we structure optimal products and services to prevent and treat their illnesses and conditions. We have embarked on a “member journey” research project to investigate these elements with the aim of offering a personalised healthcare solution to all our members.”
Medihelp supports its members in maintaining optimal health by offering risk screenings and additional insured benefits with a focus on preventive care. Members can have various health tests done every year, including blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol tests. Additional benefits include certain vaccinations, women’s health benefits such as mammograms, additional maternity benefits, men’s health benefits such as prostate tests, and additional child benefits including routine screening and immunisation. Wellness support such as a Chronic Care programme provides further assistance with chronic disease.
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2022
United Nations: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103082 and https://www.un.org/en/actnow/ten-actions and https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/takeaction/
Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/climate-change-substituting-food-items-rather-than-whole-diets-can-still-make-a-big-difference