On 7th April, we’ll be marking World Health Day, a day that was first commemorated in 1950 following inception during the First Health Assembly in 1948 with an aim to create awareness on a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the WHO . Looking forward to this day, I’m both perplexed and in awe. Perplexed because the level of inequity in accessing quality healthcare services by populations world over 70 years down the line. And in awe because marking the day on the backdrop of a pandemic, we’ve witnessed the power of science and innovation with a vaccine being in use in less than a year. This is a magnificent achievement in itself but then comes the catch, how do we ensure everyone everywhere is able to access this lifesaver?
Focusing on the theme for this World Health Day: “Building a Fairer, Healthier World for Everyone”, I believe it’s a timely call that we should all focus on ending the inequalities that make it impossible for every individual globally to access the healthcare services they need, when they need them and without being at risk of going into poverty as a result of the associated expenses. Wait! Some are already in poverty and therefore even affording the bare minimum will be impossible.
While this happens to be our reality, I still have hope in humanity. Hope in our potential to right the wrongs, potential to rewrite the narrative and work towards a healthy and prosperous world where everyone can attain the highest standard of health. My hope is anchored on the fact that we all acknowledge the cost of ill health, we all have been made to comprehend the cost of disease through a pandemic that have disrupted our lives. This is a wake-up call to act not only in our interests but also in the interests of the world at large. Often times the most disenfranchised and marginalized don’t have their voices contribute to the common narrative. We stand a chance to make their voices to be heard because we are in this together.
Reflecting on the incidences that we’ve witnessed in Kenya over the last week with a common call by Kenyans on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to rescind its decision to extend a loan facility to the government , there’s hope that a citizens are getting enough of unresponsive governance. It has come a time that citizens are tired of letting decisions be made for them where they don’t see the value. With this said, it’s my hope and call on every individual to align to this wave of change with a focus on championing for health reforms for which in the current context I’ll have only five (5) asks:
- Proactively seek healthcare services when unwell – poor health seeking behavior is one major cause of morbidity and mortality in the country. Delayed presentation to healthcare facilities for treatment complicates your care with worse chances at recovery. Take it upon yourself to ensure you seek the care you need and to stay healthy. Healthcare services range from preventive, curative, rehabilitative & palliative services.
- Hold your caregivers to account by actively playing your role in your care. Ask to know why you are being recommended for certain tests, why a particular set of medications are prescribed and most importantly seek counsel from your pharmacist at the point of dispensing the medication. Ensure you know what you are being treated for and how the medication works for you.
- Financing of healthcare services have been a challenge with concerns around services catered for by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). Review the NHIF service charter, inquire with the hospital management on your charges & range of services that can be catered for. This saves you from having to spend when you have an insurance cover that can meet your healthcare needs.
- Hold the government accountable for provisions of healthcare services as an active citizen. Let the government provide healthcare services within its mandate, create policies that promote efficiencies including in fast tracking COVID-19 vaccinations rather than put up regulatory barricades.
- Finally, it’s in your best interest to stay healthy and to ensure those around you are healthy. Wear masks, sanitize/wash hands with soap & water, keep physical distance of at least 1m and avoid public gatherings as much as possible.
There’s an awakening and it’s at an opportune moment to set pace for the future we all want: a fairer, healthier world for everyone.