- Celebrating the World Health Day 2022: Our Planet, Our Health
Akanwa, Angela Oyilieze and Joe-Ikechebelu, Ngozi Nneka
As you dream, you can make it happen! Reimagining Nigeria and its communities having clean air, water with available food and livable unpolluted cities, as well as our economy getting more positive and focusing on the health and well-being of its people. These and more positives we imagine for our country in this month and beyond as we celebrate the World Health Day. The theme, hinging on our planet and our health is of great importance, as it calls for an intense participatory multisectoral research to action activities driven toward a “climate-environment-health approach” using innovating, but implementable programmes, policies, legislation and advocacy to achieve better public plane health. This year makes it the 72nd year of celebrating the World Health Day (WHD), every 7th April, and it calls the attention of the world to the huge changes that has been made on the planet through our diverse, unregulated and indiscriminate activities resulting to dire health consequences. This year’s theme calls attention to the interconnectedness between our environment and health, because the climate disaster is also a health disaster so that, we can foster a fairer, healthier world as we ally to minimize climate change and its impacts locally and globally.
World Health Organization projects that there are excess of thirteen million (13million) global deaths during the pandemic, though worse in global North nations, yet we may not know the extent of morbidity and mortality that were unrecorded in remote villages the global South. The increasing number of deaths and ill-health is exacerbated by limited access to health and social systems, particularly in the global South. For example, in Nigeria, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a crippling health system that is worsened by universal health coverage. Nigerians are not able to access promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative care health services when, how, and where they need them with financial ease. Also, there are worsening health sustainable development goals and indicators relative to the climate crisis experienced in Nigeria. However, some endemic health diseases, such as Poliomyelitis and Ebola Virus Disease has shown some successful outcomes amid systemic challenges that may be related from external funding. But the sustainability of these foreign funded programs come with complexities, especially when there is no national ownership. Notably, when the primary health care system is neglected and weakened with limited resources, such as manpower and funding. A weakened health system may make health a reality for all to be a mirage.
Current global population growth indicates that there is massive expansion of urban areas, as cities and towns accommodate more people, they create more environmental challenges that infringes on the right of our planet’s health. Population growth through natural births and migration have resulted in massive increase in the rate of deforestation, solid waste generation, poor water supply, slum development, poor energy supplies among others. This is responsible for the distortion of our ecological diversity, thus global temperature and climate patterns have become vulnerable causing increased catastrophic hydro-meteorological events, with serious pollution of the air, water and soil of which drought and flood have become a regular event. The problem is not farfetched as our planet has been heating up for a long time, but this must change as we reimagine and hope for the best for our nation. We are faced with the biggest and intricate issue ever in the history of the planet – a climate crisis.