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World Health Day: “Building a Fairer, Healthier World”


World Health Day, also considered as the World Health Organization’s birthday, has been celebrated every year for the last 71 years since 1950. This event is usually marked by celebrating progress towards better health, whereby a different campaign is proposed and stakeholders work towards achieving it.

Observing World Health Day is considered important because it is an opportunity to draw the attention of the world towards a specific health problem and raise awareness about it. According to WHO, long-term advocacy campaigns are usually launched on World Health Day.

The chosen theme for this year is “Building a Fairer, Healthier World”:  “It draws attention to the need for us to seize this moment so that we emerge from the pandemic stronger. And it highlights the fact that to do this, we must pay greater attention to addressing inequity.” said Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific

Dr Takeshi Kasai, also emphasized on the importance of solidarity and being mindful of one’s action in these dire situations.

This is because no country is safe until every country is safe. No community is safe until every community is safe. And no individual is safe until every individual is safe. The only way out of this pandemic is for all of us – individuals, communities, countries – to keep working together to find solutions to the challenges we face, including inequity.” he said

Mauritius Health Overview

Facing a second wave of the covid-19, Mauritius has registered a total of 1,164 cases, with 532 local cases. The second wave registered more cases than the first wave in 2020. The vaccination campaign is ongoing with more than 190,000 people already inoculated with their first dose of the Covishield, or the Covaxin. 

Besides Covid-19, health indicators such as life expectancy have seen an increase over the years, from 60.3 years in 1962 to 74.3 years in 2018. Another health indicator, infant mortality has seen a decrease over the years, from 60.3 in 1962 to 14.5 in 2019. Similarly a decreasing trend was noted in deaths due to infectious and parasitic diseases from 9.4% in 1975 to 2.8% in 2019. However, deaths due to Non Communicable Diseases which are mostly related to individuals’ lifestyles and behaviours are increasing. In 2019, more than 50% of the total deaths were due to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Health statistics show that the top 5 principal causes of death in 2019 are by diabetes (22.1%), heart diseases (17.8%), cancers and other tumors (13.2%), diseases of the respiratory system (12.7%) and cerebrovascular diseases (8.3% ). As for the leading causes of attendance in hospitals, 572,269 people were admitted for diseases of the respiratory system, and 191,486 people for diseases of the Musculoskeletal System and Connective Tissue. 

Moreover a survey conducted in October 2020 by the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development about how Mauritians feels about their health indicated that 71% of Mauritians aged 16 years and above reported their health to be “good or very good” while 5% rated their health as “bad or very bad”. 

Keeping in mind this year’s theme “Building a Fairer, Healthier World”, Dr. Ramsamy Yhovina Devi, General Practitioner, MBBS, explains that a step for Mauritius to be closer to World Health Day theme, would be educating the general public. 

“For the 2021 World Health Day, in a time of pandemic, the step towards it for Mauritius would be educating the general public on the importance of a healthy lifestyle, which would include all the three aspects of health,  physical, social and mental well-being. Health promotion campaigns and screening programmes should be done on a regular basis, targeting all age groups, irrespective of socio-economic status, ensuring each and every individual has access to basic health care facilities. Every individual has a role to play. One healthy individual leads to a healthy community which in turn leads to a healthy nation, and a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Everyone has the right to health. No one should be left behind while paving the journey to a healthier world.” she said

Dr. Ramsamy Yhovina Devi, also recommended 5 habits to pave the way towards good health. The first on her list is a “balanced and healthy diet”

“It differs for each and every individual. Know your daily body requirements, calories and adjust accordingly, focusing more on antioxidants, fruits and vegetables.” she said

Secondly she recommends, “adequate hydration” such as having “3 to 5 litres of water per day”

The third habit to adopt, is a positive mental health. “Sadly, not enough emphasis is laid on mental health, whilst it is equally as important as physical health. A sound mind is in a sound body.” she explained 

She also recommends 30 minutes of exercising per day, and for those “not fond of gym or strenuous workout sessions, wakeup, get involved in adventure groups, trails, hiking, little jogging sessions with your closed ones.” 
And lastly a good habit to adopt is to get adequate sleep which is of “7 to 8hours of sleep daily.”