CARPHA urges elimination of health inequities on World Health DayWednesday, April 07, 2021
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says World Health Day which is being observed today is a call for urgent action to eliminate health inequities and mobilise action to attain better health for all and leave no one behind.
World Health Day is being observed this year under the theme “Together for a fairer, healthier world”.
In a statement from CARPHA to mark the day, the agency said health inequities are unjust, unfair, and widen the equity gaps, preventing people from reaching their full potential due to where a person is born, lives, grows, and works. It said these health inequities are largely felt among those who are disadvantaged and often experience discrimination which may lead to illnesses, morbidity and premature mortality.
“Reducing health inequities is important because health is a fundamental human right. Everyone deserves to live a healthy life regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, disability, economic situation or employment. Health inequities go against the very fabric of social justice because they are avoidable,” Executive Director at the CARPHA, Dr Joy St John said.
The agency said to promote prevention, a whole of society approach is necessary. It noted that it is important to work together with those who are in affected communities, address inequity issues, implement solutions, and work with governments to create a harmonised system.
Health information systems should be able to identify vulnerable populations, and health inequities should be monitored to ensure everyone has access to quality health services without discrimination, the CARPHA said.
The regional health agency noted that several factors contribute to inequities such as poverty, unemployment, environmental challenges, gender inequalities, and most recently, the emergence of COVID-19.
The pandemic, it said, has had grave consequences for people already experiencing inequities and has disproportionately impacted those people already socially and economically disadvantaged.
“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the difficulties in ensuring access for persons with chronic diseases, vulnerable communities, and those facing inequalities, to receiving healthcare. We need to ensure that the rights of persons living with chronic diseases are not violated, and the provision of chronic disease prevention and control services continue for children, adolescents, adults and vulnerable populations during COVID-19,” Dr St John said.
The CARPHA said it supports member states' access to quality health care and essential medicines, by providing public health services in areas such as laboratory testing, environmental health, surveillance, program development and policy advice. This, it said, contributes to a positive effect on the provision of services to communities and ultimately on their health and well-being.
The agency further urged member states to develop and implement fairer policies and actions to achieve health equity. It encouraged countries to strengthen intersectoral, regional and national action to address the social determinants of health approach — gender equity, right to health, the monitoring of health inequalities, strengthening of health systems, and knowledge dissemination.
“We all need to ensure that no one is left behind,” the agency emphasised.
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