Essay On World Health Day

World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April this year and it is centred around the theme 'Depression: let’s talk'. Cases of depression have ballooned almost 20 percent in the last decade, making the debilitating disorder linked to suicide the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Rates of depression have risen by more than 18 percent since 2005, but a lack of support for mental health combined with a common fear of stigma means many do not get the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives. Which is why it is important to understand depression and break the stigma around it.

"These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to rethink their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves," WHO chief Margaret Chan had said in a statement.

Recently, a 24-year-old student from Mumbai, Arjun Bhardwaj, had committed suicide by jumping off the 19-storey room of Hotel Taj Lands End in Bandra, highlighting the need raise the dialogue on depression.

Understanding depression

Depression is a common mental illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest and lack of ability in everyday activities and work. It affects around 322 million people worldwide.

According to WHO, depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Especially when long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family.

Depression also increases the risk of several major diseases and disorders including addiction, suicidal behaviour, diabetes and heart disease, which are themselves among the world's biggest killers.

"For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery," said Shekhar Saxena, director of the WHO's mental health department.

To understand the common misconceptions and myths around depression in India, Firstpost spoke to Prachi Akhavi, a clinical psychologist working with Ehsaas, a psychotherapy Clinic at Ambedkar University Delhi:

"In India, there are many myths around depression. Quite often, it is dismissed as 'just sadness'. This leads to a belief that it's a choice one has made and can be stepped out of without professional or even familial help,"

"As with most mental health issues, the perception exists that someone has to be held responsible... more often than not, the parents or the family is blamed, which creates a resistance towards accepting depression as a serious issue," Akhavi said.

Types and symptoms

Depending on the number and severity of symptoms, a depressive episode can be categorised as mild, moderate, or severe.

Recurrent depressive disorder: This disorder involves repeated depressive episodes. During these episodes, the person experiences depressed mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced energy leading to diminished activity for at least two weeks. Many people with depression also suffer from anxiety symptoms, disturbed sleep and appetite and may have feelings of guilt or low self-worth, poor concentration and even medically unexplained symptoms.

Bipolar affective disorder: This type of depression typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood. Manic episodes involve elevated or irritable mood, over-activity, pressure of speech, inflated self-esteem and a decreased need for sleep.

Diagnosing and treating depression

According to the WHO, although there are known, effective treatments for depression, fewer than half of those affected in the world (in many countries, fewer than 10 percent) receive such treatments. Barriers to effective care include a lack of resources, lack of trained health-care providers, and social stigma associated with mental disorders.

Another barrier to effective care is an inaccurate assessment. In countries of all income levels like India, people who are depressed are often not correctly diagnosed, and others who do not have the disorder are too often misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants. The burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally.

"In the present day and age, a highly functional form of depression is prevalent. Because of the capitalistic structure of MNC culture, where one is mechanised into a productive functional ability, this affective disability/illness gets missed very easily," Akhavi said.

There are effective treatments for moderate and severe depression. Health-care providers may offer psychological treatments – such as behavioural activation, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) or antidepressant medication (such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

"A better understanding of depression and how it can be treated ... is just the beginning," said Saxena. "What needs to follow is sustained scale-up of mental health services accessible to everyone, even the most remote populations."

Some facts about depression:

- India is one of the most depressed countries in the world. According to the WHO, close to 36 percent of India are likely to suffer from major depression at some point in their lives.

- As per a WHO report, in 2012, India accounted for the highest estimated number of suicides in the world.

- One in four children in the age group of 13-15 years suffers from depression.

- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.

- More women are affected by depression than men.

- On average just 3 percent of government health budgets is spent on mental health

With inputs from agencies, WHO

Published Date: Apr 07, 2017 17:55 PM | Updated Date: Apr 07, 2017 18:27 PM

Tags :#Antidepressants#ConnectTheDots#Depression#India#Psychotherapy#Suicide#WHO#World Health Day

World Health Day
Observed byAll Member States of the World Health Organization
DateApril 7
Next time7 April 2018 (2018-04-07)

The World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on April 7, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as other related organisations.

In 1948, the WHO held the First World Health Assembly. The Assembly decided to celebrate 7 April of each year, with effect from 1950, as the World Health Day. The World Health Day is held to mark WHO's founding, and is seen as an opportunity by the organization to draw worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health each year.[1] The WHO organizes international, regional and local events on the Day related to a particular theme. World Health Day is acknowledged by various governments and non-governmental organizations with interests in public health issues, who also organize activities and highlight their support in media reports, such as the Global Health Council.[2]

World Health Day is one of eight official global health campaigns marked by WHO, along with World Tuberculosis Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World AIDS Day, World Blood Donor Day, and World Hepatitis Day.[3]

List of World Health Days themes[edit]

Themes of World Health Days[edit]

2006: Working together for health[edit]

In 2006, World Health Day was devoted to the health workforce crisis, or chronic shortages of health workers around the world due to decades of underinvestment in their education, training, salaries, working environment and management. The day was also meant to celebrate individual health workers – the people who provide health care to those who need it, in other words those at the heart of health systems.

The Day also marked the launch of the WHO's World Health Report 2006, which focused on the same theme. The report contained an assessment of the current crisis in the global health workforce, revealing an estimated shortage of almost 4.3 million physicians, midwives, nurses and other health care providers worldwide, and further proposed a series of actions for countries and the international community to tackle it.[4]

2007: Invest in health, build a safer future[edit]

Key messages for World Health Day 2007:

  1. Threats to health know no borders.
  2. Invest in health, build a safer future.
  3. Health leads to security; insecurity leads to poor health.
  4. Preparedness and quick response improve international health security.
  5. The World Health Organization is making the world more secure.

2008: Protecting health from the adverse effects of climate change[edit]

In 2008, World Health Day focused on the need to protect health from the adverse effects of climate change and establish links between climate change and health and other development areas such as environment, food, energy, transport.

The theme "protecting health from climate change" put health at the centre of the global dialogue about climate change. WHO selected this theme in recognition that climate change is posing ever growing threats to global public health security.[5]

2009: Save lives. Make hospitals safe in emergencies[edit]

World Health Day 2009 focused on the safety of health facilities and the readiness of health workers who treat those affected by emergencies. Health centres and staff are critical lifelines for vulnerable people in disasters – treating injuries, preventing illnesses and caring for people's health needs. Often, already fragile health systems are unable to keep functioning through a disaster, with immediate and future public health consequences.

For this year's World Health Day campaign, WHO and international partners underscored the importance of investing in health infrastructure that can withstand hazards and serve people in immediate need, and urged health facilities to implement systems to respond to internal emergencies, such as fires, and ensure the continuity of care.

2010: Urbanization and health[edit]

With the campaign "1000 cities, 1000 lives", events were organized worldwide during the week starting 7 April 2010. The global goals of the campaign were:[6]

  • 1000 cities: to open up public spaces to health, whether it be activities in parks, town hall meetings, clean-up campaigns, or closing off portions of streets to motorized vehicles.
  • 1000 lives: to collect 1000 stories of urban health champions who have taken action and had a significant impact on health in their cities.

2011: Antimicrobial Resistance[edit]

The theme of World Health Day 2011, marked on 7 April 2011, was "Antimicrobial resistance and its global spread" and focused on the need for governments and stakeholders to implement the policies and practices needed to prevent and counter the emergence of highly resistant microorganisms.[7]

When infections caused by resistant microorganisms fail to respond to standard treatments, including antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines – also known as drug resistance – this may result in prolonged illness and greater risk of death.

On World Health Day 2011, WHO called for intensified global commitment to safeguard antimicrobial medicines for future generations. The organization introduced a six-point policy package to combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance:[8][9]

  1. Commit to a comprehensive, financed national plan with accountability and civil society engagement.
  2. Strengthen surveillance and laboratory capacity.
  3. Ensure uninterrupted access to essential medicines of assured quality.
  4. Regulate and promote rational use of medicines, including in animal husbandry, and ensure proper patient care; reduce use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals.
  5. Enhance infection prevention and control.
  6. Foster innovations and research and development for new tools.

2012: Ageing and Health[edit]

World Health Day 2012 was marked with the slogan "Good health adds life to years". Life expectancy is going up in most countries, meaning more and more people live longer and enter an age when they may need health care. Meanwhile, birth rates are generally falling. Countries and health care systems need to find innovative and sustainable ways to cope with the demographic shift. As stated by John Beard, director of the WHO Department of Ageing and Life Course, "With the rapid ageing of populations, finding the right model for long-term care becomes more and more urgent."[10]

Different activities were organized by WHO as well as non-governmental and community organizations around the world to mark World Health Day 2012.[11] For example, Yogathon (an Art of Living Initiative) – a marathon of Surya Namaskar – happened in 100+ cities across the globe. Millions of people participated[12] in that event to make awareness of Yoga as a part of healthy living.[13] The event focused on prevention and not just medical treatment of chronic diseases, which remain unaffordable to many people.

2013: Healthy Blood Pressure[edit]

The theme of World Health Day 2013, marked on 7 April 2013, was the need to control raised blood pressure (hypertension) as a "silent killer, global public health crisis".[14] The slogan for the campaign was "Healthy Heart Beat, Healthy Blood Pressure”.[15] The WHO reports hypertension – which is both preventable and treatable – contributes to the burden of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure, and is an important cause of premature death and disability. The organization estimates one in 3 adults has raised blood pressure.

Specific objectives of the World Health Day 2013 campaign were to:

  • raise awareness of the causes and consequences of high blood pressure;
  • provide information on how to prevent high blood pressure and related complications;
  • encourage adults to check their blood pressure and follow the advice of healthcare professionals;
  • encourage self care to prevent high blood pressure;
  • to make blood pressure measurement affordable to all;
  • to incite national and local authorities to create enabling environments for healthy behaviours.

2014: Small bite, Big threat[edit]

World Health Day 2014 put the spotlight on some of the most commonly known vectors – such as mosquitoes, sandflies, bugs, ticks and snails – responsible for transmitting a wide range of parasites and pathogens that can cause many different illnesses. Mosquitoes, for example, transmit malaria – the most deadly vector-borne disease, causing an estimated 660 000 deaths annually worldwide – as well as dengue fever, lymphatic filariasis, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever.[16] More than half of the world’s population is at risk of these diseases.

The goal of the World Health Day 2014 campaign was better protection from vector-borne diseases, especially for families living in areas where diseases are transmitted by vectors, and travelers to countries where they pose a health threat. The campaign advocated for health authorities in countries where vector-borne diseases are a public health problem or emerging threat, to put in place measures to improve surveillance and protection.

2015: Food Safety[edit]

The WHO promoted improvement of food safety as part of the 2015 World Health Day campaign.[17] Unsafe food — food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances — is responsible for more than 200 diseases, and is linked to the deaths of some 2 million people annually, mostly children. Changes in food production, distribution and consumption; changes to the environment; new and emerging pathogens; and antimicrobial resistance all pose challenges to food safety systems.

The WHO works with countries and partners to strengthen efforts to prevent, detect and respond to foodborne disease outbreaks in line with the Codex Alimentarius, advocating that food safety is a shared responsibility — from farmers and manufacturers to vendors and consumers — and raising awareness about the importance of the part everyone can play in ensuring that the food on our plate is safe to eat.[18]

2016: Diabetes[edit]

The WHO focused World Health Day 2016, on diabetes – a largely preventable and treatable non-communicable disease that is rapidly increasing in numbers in many countries, most dramatically in low- and middle-income countries. Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes, including maintaining normal body weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a healthy diet. Diabetes can be controlled and managed to prevent complications through diagnosis, self-management education, and affordable treatment. The WHO estimates about 422 million[19] people in the world have diabetes, with the disease the direct cause of some 1.5 million deaths. The goals of WHD 2016 are (1) scale up prevention, (2) strengthen care, and (3) enhance surveillance.[20]

2017: Depression: Let's Talk[edit]

World Health Day 2017, celebrated on 7 April, aims to mobilize action on depression.[21] This condition affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. It impacts on people’s ability to carry out everyday tasks, with consequences for families, friends, and even communities, workplaces, and health care systems. At worst, depression can lead to self-inflicted injury and suicide. A better understanding of depression – which can be prevented and treated – will help reduce the stigma associated with the illness, and lead to more people seeking help.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^World Health Organization: World Health Day. Accessed 16 March 2011.
  2. ^Global Health Council: World Health Day by Lara Endreszl, 7 April 2009.
  3. ^World Health Organization: WHO campaigns.
  4. ^The world health report 2006: working together for health, Geneva, World Health Organization, 2006
  5. ^World Health Organization:World Health Day 2008
  6. ^World Health Organization: World Health Day 2010
  7. ^Mitchell, Cristina. "World Health Day 2011 | PAHO WHO". Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization. Retrieved 2017-12-15. 
  8. ^World Health Organization. World Health Day 2011: policy briefs. Geneva, WHO, 2011
  9. ^ABC Live. World Health Day 2011 Aims to Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance, 25 March 2011.
  10. ^"Defusing the demographic “time-bomb” in Germany."Bull World Health Organ 2012;90:6–7.
  11. ^World Health Organization. Your World Health Day campaign: Links, events, contacts.
  12. ^
  13. ^Art of Living Foundation. Yogathon 2012.
  14. ^World Health Organization, "World Health Day Campaign 2013: Silent killer, global public health crisis."
  15. ^World Health Organization EMRO, "World Health Day 17 April 2013."
  16. ^World Health Organization, "World Health Day – 17 April 2014."
  17. ^World Health Organization, World Health Day 2015: Food safety. Geneva. Accessed 25 November 2014.
  18. ^Singh, Ritu. "World Health Day 2015: Make food safety a shared responsibility". Zee News. Zee_News. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  19. ^World Health Day, World Health Day (April 11, 2016). "WHO". WHO. Retrieved April 11, 2016. 
  20. ^World Health Organization, World Health Day 2016: Diabetes. Geneva. Accessed 16 March 2016.
  21. ^""Depression: let's talk" says WHO, as depression tops list of causes of ill health". World Health Organization. Retrieved 2017-12-15. 
  22. ^World Health Organization, World Health Day 2017: Depression. Geneva. Accessed 4 November 2017.

External links[edit]

Nations identified with critical health worker shortages
Rates of diabetes worldwide (per 1,000 inhabitants) — world average was 2.8%.

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An 1892 lithograph of a woman diagnosed with depression

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