World Health Day

April 7th

What do people do?

Various local, national and international events are arranged to educate the public and policy makers about a specific aspect of the World Health Organization’s work. This event receives plenty of media coverage. A toolkit is provided for those who wish to plan events but emphasizes that these should be suitable for the local cultural, social and economic conditions. Examples of events include conferences for health workers, briefings for local politicians, and informational displays for children and young people. Public marches and demonstrations, as well as free or easy access to medical tests, can also take place on the day.

Public life

World Health Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

In 1945 diplomats from a range of countries formed the United Nations. One of the organizations formed was the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which first met in 1946. During this meeting, there were calls for the establishment of an organization in the United Nations, which would be dedicated to health issues.

The new organization would carry on the work of the Office International d’Hygi√®ne Publique (the International Office for Public Hygiene) and the health units of the League of Nations. These organizations were established in the early years of the 20th century, but were overburdened by the huge health consequences of the aftermath of World War I and were unable to function effectively when World War II started. It would also carry on the work of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, which provided medical aid to millions of people in the aftermath of the devastating military action in Europe during the last part of World War II.

The World Health Organization was founded on April 7, 1948. Since then, the organization has carried out a huge amount of valuable work, including the global eradication of smallpox and the implementation of a wide range of public health strategies. Now, 193 countries are members and the organization is still working to improve many aspects of health around the world.

At the First World Health Assembly in 1948, the delegates called for a World Health Day to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization. This has been held on April 7 every year since 1950. The day is used to draw attention to particular priorities in global health.

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