The “World Health Day” is an annual global health awareness programme celebrated on every 7th Day April. The thematic thrust for the day is initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as other health development institutions.

The event commemorates the founding of the World Health Organization, which was in 1948. After the first World Health Assembly in 1948, the Assembly decided to celebrate April 7th every year as “World Health Day” starting from 1950. The day affords Health Care development partners the opportunity to draw international attention to a health theme of global significance and impact. World Health Day is acknowledged by diverse government and non-government organisations with interests in public health advancement; who also organize events and highlight their support through media activities and reports.

World Health Day is one of the eight official global health campaigns marked by W H O, along with World Tuberculosis Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World AIDS Day, World Blood Donor Day, and World Hepatitis Day.

In commemorating each day, a theme is identified and disseminated globally. This year which marks the 70th anniversary has its theme as “Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere”. This year’s theme is one of the many opportunities available to remind World Leaders about the importance of equity in health-care services, for not only the health of individuals, but also for the health of economies and society at large. It reiterates the calling that everyone should be able to access the health care they need, when and where they need it without facing financial difficulties and that’s the core essence of universal health coverage.

It is believed that Universal Health Coverage is possible and it begins with a strong, vibrant and sustainable primary health care system. Primary health care is a community driven approach to health and wellbeing centered on the needs and preferences of individuals, families and communities. Primary Health Care is the bedrock of universal health coverage and the best defense against disease outbreaks and emergencies arising from poor health care.

In making health care for all a reality, governments need to invest in quality, accessible primary health care. Health workers need to care and advocate for patients and educate them on how to attain and stay in good health. Individuals and communities need to be empowered to take care of their own health. Health is a human right; together, we can make health for all a reality.

Advocacy events will hold commemoratively on this day and in line with the theme will be used to fuel the momentum of the #HealthForAll movement and to highlight our goal of achieving a fairer, healthier world – in which no one is left behind. The focus will be on equity and solidarity – on raising the bar for health for everyone, everywhere by addressing gaps in services, and leaving no one behind. The tagline for World Health Day is: Health for all – everyone, everywhere.

As we mark the World Health Day with the theme – Universal Health Coverage, The National association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, is calling on all relevant stakeholders especially the government of Nigeria to increase investment in health care. It is bizarre to note that the allocation to health in the national budget is less than 5%. Financial risk protection, which is a key component of Universal Health Coverage is still a dream in Nigeria. The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) launched in 2005 is supposed to provide financial risk protection but the objective of expanding universal health coverage to underserved individuals and communities would never be met, with the enrolment rate for the NHIS currently hovering around 2%.

The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, on our part has been pushing specific subject matter advocacy, as well as providing free medical services to pre-selected vulnerable and under-served communities since 2012, when NAS Central command implemented a policy that supports the conduct of quarterly free medical interventions through our stand-alone medical outreach, NAS Free Medical Mission

Since inception, NAS free Medical Mission has reached 8,815 Nigerians in 25 rural communities with primary health care services, across the 21 states where we have operational presence. We have given out over 1,000 prescription glasses to date and immunization has been incorporated in our medical interventions since November 2015. These, are in addition to the free medical services rendered by local chapters of our association; one of which is the regular free weekly services rendered to patients in the Port Harcourt metropolis of NAS, which has erected a full, functional medical clinic.

NAS is also calling on the Federal and State governments to see this World Health Day as a period to prioritize Primary Health Care in order to give its citizenry affordable health services. State governments are encouraged to establish State Health Insurance Schemes to reduce the financial burden of accessing health care services.

In same vein, we are encouraging well-meaning Nigerians; philanthropists and corporate bodies to adopt Primary Health Clinics by choosing to invest in the renovation of such facilities to render convenient and more affordable health care services to the host communities.

If we can bring all hands on deck, Nigeria can be placed firmly on the pathway to attaining Universal Health Coverage.

The time to start is now!

Kwaghbunde Gbahabo
NAS Cap'n,
National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity)
April 2019