It’s an important question to ask on World Health Day and particularly in 2018 as the day marks the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 70th anniversary year.
The theme of 2018’s World Health Day is universal health coverage, which promotes the ideal that everyone, everywhere should be able to access health services. The fact is, according to the WHO there are 100 million people around the globe who are being pushed into poverty through health care costs, with at least 50 per cent of the world’s population unable to obtain essential health services.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals state there are still more than six million children dying every year, before they reach their fifth birthday. The sad reality is that many will not make it to childhood with hundreds of women dying during pregnancy or from childbirth related complications.
According to the WHO, we will need another one billion people to benefit from universal health coverage by 2023 to achieve the target goal.
That’s a big ambition, but the end goal is a healthier world and you don’t have to travel far to see Australia has its own challenges here. Read this article in the Guardian and the picture of health for Indigenous Australians is anything but healthy.
‘In a country where a newborn can expect to live to age 85, 45% of Aboriginal men and 34% of women die before the age of 45.’
So, what is Universal Health Coverage?
Universal Health Coverage means that all communities can access the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. It doesn’t mean that everything is free – no country can offer this sustainably – but it does include financing the facilities, technology, governance and legislation we need to address some of the major causes of death and disease.
Public health campaigns are also incorporated and are vital in raising awareness of health threats, epidemics and preventative methods. Why? Because 160,000 children die every day from preventable diseases such as measles and tuberculosis.
According to WHO, access to quality care not only enhances health and life expectancy, it also reduces poverty and the risk of hunger, creates jobs, drives economic growth and enhances gender equality.
Examples of healthy business
Earlier this year Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announced they were forming an independent healthcare company to serve their 1.2 million combined employees through technology solutions, which they hoped would one-day help control the spiralling costs of health-care in America.
Soon after, Apple announced that it too was launching an in-house health care service which would be available to its employees.
What can Australian businesses do on World Health Day?
In Australia, the government spent $170 billion on healthcare in the 2015/16 financial year. That’s 10 per cent of the gross domestic product. There’s a lot to afford: hospitals, transport, research, primary care, community health and medication. Health is a universal need. All of us, at some point, will experience the human frailty of ill health and require care.
For businesses, the loss of productivity and output from talents who are hindered in their ability to work due to poor health is a direct cost. Mental health is now an open part of that conversation and central to wellbeing programs. There is progress being made here and companies are stepping up to bridge the gap in the cost of health, and supporting their employees to have a healthy working life.
Many companies would find the cost of establishing health insurance for all their employees to be prohibitive, but there are plenty of ways to make healthy progress:
- Support the health of the wider population through corporate social responsibility, by donating funds to charities and organisations that fund medical research.
- Provide support for specific conditions that impact your business’ customers, clients, the local community where your operations are established
- Fund health facilities in remote areas of Australia, internationally, or in places impacted by conflict.
- Include health as a key focus area of your Reconciliation Action Plan.
- Launch a health and wellbeing program at work.
- Look into the provision of free counselling services for all employees and provide this as part of your benefits packages.
- Ban the bikkies from the office – go with fruit instead.
- Provide cycle racks and end of trip facilities so people can run, walk or ride to work and have a shower when they get there.
- Provide an annual health check for all employees.
- Make ‘wellness day’ a thing – and give people a day to go to the doctor and have the check-ups we should all have and regularly put off because we’re time poor.
If your company is on the Good2Give platform, you can encourage your employees to give to causes promoting health and wellbeing through workplace giving, or you could even run an appeal. You can search all of the charities related to health by clicking here.
What can people do?
There are a vast number of charities striving to improve healthcare and make it more accessible around the world. You can make a one-off donation – it may not seem like a lot, but collectively it can make an enormous difference. Or even better, become a regular donor. Here are a few healthy causes you can choose from.
Medecins Sans Frontieres
are an international medical humanitarian organisation delivering emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusions and natural disasters.
$100 could go towards these 5 areas, including malaria and tuberculosis treatment.
The Australian Red Cross
works with families, communities and partner agencies to find practical solutions towards preventing disease. This includes village-owned health funds and health in emergencies.
$100 will help the Australian Red Cross support vulnerable communities.
Australian Doctors International
deploy volunteer doctors and health coordinators to work in partnership with local governments and private companies to deliver clinical services and public health education in rural and remote areas, as well as training for health-workers.
$110 could equip one health centre with a thermometer, suture kit and scales.
World Vision Australia
works to improve child health and maternal health, and to treat acute malnutrition and train community health workers.
$50 could help treat 33 children for malnutrition.
supports child survival through the sustainable introduction of vaccines to children in Pacific Island countries and strengthening community level interventions in Zimbabwe. In Ethiopia, they are ensuring healthcare is accessible to the most remotely located families through their Mobile Health and Nutrition teams.
$45 will provide 400 oral rehydration salts.
Want to know more?
To find out more about WHO’s campaign for universal health care, visit the website here.
Want to do more?
You can download campaign essentials to run an awareness of personal fundraising effort on World Health Day.
If you are a Good2Give client and want to run a workplace giving campaign on World Health Day, download our toolkit including creative for social media, posters and internal communications here.
Emma Davies is the Marketing Communications Coordinator at Good2Give.