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World Health Day – 7th April 2022 Our planet Our health – by Dr Jayeni Hiti-Bandaralage

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Source: Dæhæna – Radio 4EB Sri Lankan Group – Monthly e-Newsletter – April 2022

World Health Day – 7th April 2022 Our planet Our health - by Dr Jayeni Hiti-BandaralageThe World Health Day, the 7th of April each year, is a celebration of the inauguration of The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948 and aims to raise global awareness on human health. In the midst of a global pandemic, “Health” has become the most important topic of the century. Covid 19 pandemic challenged humanity, shifted our focus on building economies to appreciate life, yet made us realise the importance of overall well-being of people and the environment.

WHO’s 2022 theme “Our planet, our health” emphasises how incredibly dependent we are as humans on our planet earth to lead a healthy life; “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Health of an individual is mostly governed by three factors; What we eat? What we do? and
Where we live?. Superficially, gaining the complete control of maintaining a healthy lifestyle seem to be perfectly achievable. The question is, Can we control it at individual level? We need better understanding of what really affects the well-being of humans.. THE BIGGER PICTURE..

The technological developments have shrunken our planet, connecting people, linking every nook and corner including the outer space. The impact of one country’s political, social and commercial decisions are felt by the entire world. We are facing an era of climate and health crisis. The human nation is now beginning to face the repercussion of those ‘human centred’ decisions. According to WHO, 90% of people breath unhealthy air and diseases spread faster than ever before. Global warming has resulted in extreme weather events, land degradation and water scarcity is frequent around the world. Micro-plastics are found in our food chains that can lead to severe health issues, making us accountable for the pollution that has reached deepest oceans, freshwater springs and the highest mountains as a cause of human actions. Today, the importance of living close to the nature while protecting our environment with new technology developments for sustainable living for a healthy planet is emphasised as never before.

The world is struggling to feed its 8 billion people, and it is a rapidly aging population, though the average life expectancy has increased to 73.4 years (2019). The top global cause of death is a heart condition; ischemia heart disease of which the heart goes to starvation of oxygen due to a reduced blood supply mostly due to build-up of plaque in the wall of one of the arteries. It is the top cause of deaths in Australia (Figure 1). The busy life-style resulting in lack of exercise and consumption of highly processed, unhealthy foods and beverages are attributed to this problem.

World Health Day – 7th April 2022 Our planet Our health - by Dr Jayeni Hiti-Bandaralage

Moving forward, a healthy planet for a healthy life screams the urgency of creating sustainable well-being societies for generations to come without breaching ecological limits. We need reforms in legislation, budget allocation and long-term investments to highlight the need and provide due emphasis to inspire and encourage individuals to make health choices for themselves and for the planet. How we measure the development of a country should reflect and factor in the health. Few countries have set an example to the world; Bhutan’s Gross national happiness index, New Zealand’s Well-Being budget and UAE’s happiness agenda. Enforcing such initiatives to focus on “Our planet, and Our health” will be the way forward for equity in better life beyond the barriers of wealth.

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