World Health Day has been celebrated annually on April 7 since 1950. The celebration is aimed to raise awareness on the priorities of the World Health Organization (WHO). Since its inception, important health issues such as mental health, food safety, universal health converge, diabetes and climate change have been a focus. The theme for 2021 is “Building a Fairer, Healthier World.” The WHO is devoted to ensuring that everyone, everywhere, can recognize the right to good health.

If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to healthcare than others. This is due mostly to the luck of the draw as to where they are born and where they live. In all parts of the world, many people struggle to make ends meet due to limited income. This is due to lack of educational opportunities, which then directly links to fewer employment opportunities resulting in numerous people who have food insecurities. Many people live in poor housing conditions, experience greater amounts of gender inequality, and have inadequate or no access to safe environments (including clean water and air), which lead to insufficient healthcare. This results in unnecessary suffering, avoidable illness, and premature death. This is not only unfair, it is preventable.

COVID-19 has impacted most countries in a variety of ways, but its impact has been toughest on those communities which were already vulnerable, who were more exposed to COVID-19, and less likely to have access to quality healthcare. This year on World Health Day, the WHO is calling on leaders to ensure that everyone has living and working environments that are advantageous to good health. They also want to urge leaders to be aware of and monitor health inequities and to ensure that all people are able to access quality healthcare.