World Health Day – April 7th 2012

World Health Day – April 7th 2012

Every year, World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948. Each year a theme is selected for World Health Day that highlights a priority area of concern for WHO.

World Health Day is a global campaign, inviting everyone – from global leaders to the public in all countries – to focus on a single health challenge with global impact. Focusing on new and emerging health issues, World Health Day provides an opportunity to start collective action to protect people’s health and well-being.

The theme this year is ageing and health and WHO has produced a brief for this year: Global brief for World Health Day 2012


Education at all levels can provide the right messages for healthy living but learners may not be healthy enough in the first place to learn well.

Much money is invested in education – new curricula, learning materials, infrastructure and teachers but when children are unhealthy they may not learn much.

In many parts of the world children suffer from worms which take much of the child’s nutrients from their little food – for very little we could at least solve that problem.Children often suffer from malaria, respiratory diseases, continuous diarrhoea etc.

UNICEF has been at the forefront of promoting good health for children around the world:

WASH and health
Poor sanitation, unsafe water and unhygienic practices cause millions of children in the developing world to suffer needlessly from disease. Water- and sanitation-related disease,  despite being preventable, remains one of the most significant child health problems worldwide.

Diarrhoea is the most serious of these diseases, alone killing over 3,000 children each day. 88% of diarrhoeal disease is attributed to unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. Children in developing countries typically have four to five bouts of diarrhoea a year. Even when they don’t kill, these diarrhoea episodes can physically and mentally stunt children, affecting them for the rest of their lives. By weakening children, diarrhoea increases mortality rates from other opportunistic diseases, including ARI (acute respiratory infections). ARI and diarrhoea together account for two-thirds of all child deaths worldwide.


“Sanitation is the single most important medical advance since 1840” — British Medical Journal reader survey

Millions of other children are made sick, weakened or are disabled by other water- and sanitation-related diseases and infections including cholera, malaria, trachoma, schistosomiasis, worm infestations and guinea worm disease. And in a growing number of countries, natural or man-made pollution of water sources with dangerous contaminants threatens millions of people.


WASH and education
A high percentage of children suffer from intestinal infections caused by parasites as a result of poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation. Parasites consume nutrients, aggravate malnutrition, retard children’s physical development and result in poor school attendance and performance. Household chores, such as fetching water, keep many girls out of school. Also, the lack of separate and decent sanitation and washing facilities in schools discourages girls from attending school full time and forces some to drop out. The majority of the 121 million school-age children not in school are girls.

WASH and development
Poor water and sanitation exact a heavy economic cost in terms of health spending, loss of productivity and labour diversion. If everyone in the world had access to basic water and sanitation services, the reduction in diarrhoeal disease alone would save the health sector $11.6 billion in treatment costs and people would gain over 5.6 billion productive days per year.  When the potential economic gains of providing basic, low-cost water and sanitation facilities are added together, the developing world could save as much as $263 billion a year (see box).

Promoting improved hygiene practices and increasing access to water and sanitation facilities helps to reduce opportunistic infections among people living with HIV/AIDS. Better access to facilities also reduces the burden on households caring for AIDS-affected family members. Less time spent on fetching water allows caregivers – who are usually women and girls – more time and energy for coping with the disease or for working outside the home. Appropriate sanitation also helps to ensure that AIDS sufferers, many of whom experience severe bouts of diarrhoea, have access to clean and private facilities.

Health and Education are key issues in any emergency and INEE continue to update their excellent resources:

INEE Pocket Guide to Supporting Learners with Disabilities 

  • Helps to strengthen the efforts of anyone working with teachers or facilitators in an emergency, whether as part of the formal education system or a non-governmental programme. This guide offers practical ideas for including children and young people with disabilities in education during or after an emergency. It strives to address current barriers to inclusive education.
  • Currently available in English, French and Bahasa Indonesia.
  • Implementation Tools include: Supporting Learners with Disabilities Poster in English and Arabic; “Understanding and Responding to Children’s Needs in Inclusive Classrooms: A Guide for Teachers” in English; and “Making Schools Inclusive: How Change Can Happen” in English.

Guidance on HIV in Education in Emergencies

  • Provides information for education practitioners who provide, manage or support education services in emergencies. It provides guidance for mainstreaming HIV and sexual and reproductive health issues into formal and non-formal education responses for adolescents 10-19 years old.
  • Currently available in English.
  • Implementation Tools include: “A Strategic Approach: HIV & AIDS and Education” in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish; “HIV & AIDS and Supportive Learning Environments” in English and French; and the “IASC Guidelines for Addressing HIV in Humanitarian Settings” in English

Hesperian books have for many years produced excellent resources for those living and working in developing countries, such as where there is no doctor

The Road To Health in the Indian Himalayas
Ryan Phillips
“The bags came up the mountain trail on the back of a horse as usual.  Inside there was a parcel sent from America by our friend Janet Meek.  Along with a few comforts from home was a copy of Where There Is No Doctor.  Inside the cover was scribbled a small note which said, “Thought this might come in handy, though I hope you never have to use it.”  There was no way she could have known what would become the irony of this statement or that she had cast a spark into the tinderbox of our community..”
Ecological Sanitation Latrines Transform Rural Ethiopia
Judy Sanderman

“In rural Ethiopia, we have proceeded in stages from open-field defecation to ecological-sanitation latrines (Ecosan).  These above-ground latrines keep groundwater clean, divert urine for use as fertilizer, and compost feces.  It seems like a miracle to have watched villagers go from their first understanding of hygiene to their enthusiastic embrace of these latrines…  The path to Ecosan began with the section on Sanitation and Cleanliness from your book A Community Guide to Environmental Health.”
Disabled Children in Ecuador Get a Second Chance
Irene Saunders

“With the help of photos and diagrams in Disabled Village Children I paid a local carpenter to construct a chair and a stander for him. The stander helped to strengthen his bones even though he would never walk or stand on his own. I made him braces to keep his feet in alignment. Using the stander and the chair, he could, for the first time, work at the table with the other children, using his right hand for drawing, pasting, clay and block building.”

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