April 7th marks World Health Day where each year it is aimed to promote awareness regarding various health issues including mental health, maternal and child care, climate change, and much more. This day is used as an opportunity to bring a worldwide focus on global health. World Health Day is celebrated every year as it marks the World Health Organization (WHO) founding in the year, 1948. The Government of Canada takes part on World Health Day to encourage Canadians to take action to support their health.
Previous themes for World Health Day include raising awareness to support nurses and midwives, universal health coverage, the aging population, and much more. One important aspect related to all these topics covered, is the social determinants of health. The social determinants of health are the various conditions in which people are born, work, play, and age that determine the populations’ health. These determinants of health cover a broad range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors. Some examples of the main determinants include income and social status, employment, education and literacy, childhood experiences, physical environment, social support, culture, race/racism, gender, and much more. These determinants help determine the health inequalities that exist in our society which can help us to understand and overcome the barriers we face to access our healthcare needs.
For example, the risk of COVID-19 can be influenced by the social determinants of health. As lockdown measures took place in Toronto and Peel region, it impacted individuals who have low income or those who have lost their jobs as unemployment has become an issue not only on their physical but mental health as individuals’ stress can increase. The physical environment can also play a factor because an individual may feel the physical environment is not maintained well in regards to sanitization. This can over time play an impact as one may often try to stay home which can impede their mental health due to social isolation they may feel they have reduced social support. As a result, all these social determinants of health over time have an effect on an individual’s health. Thus, health officials often try to understand the root causes by looking through the social determinants of health to overall improve the population’s health.
Hence, through the example we can see there are various factors that are attributed to the risk of COVID-19, meaning it is important not to conduct victim-blaming as the way society is built can also have an effect. Overall, similar topics to this are often covered through World Health Day to provide the opportunity to empower the public to take action to enhance their health.
If you are interested to learn more about World Health Day and the topics that were covered in previous, please click on the links below:
Written by: Shenen Sivakumar