World Health Day 2021: Building a fairer, healthier world

07 April 2021

Hello! It is World Health Day, and it is time to “build a fairer, healthier world for everyone everywhere’. Today, it is also time to think about the new normal and how to “ensure that all people are able to access quality health services when and where they need them”.

There is unfortunately no doubt that COVID-19 has exacerbated and amplified many of the pre-existing health inequalities in Europe. For example, this factsheet highlights the fact that ethnic minority groups in our society are more likely to suffer the adverse effects of COVID-19 due to greater exposure to the social determinants of health like poorer working conditions and less access to healthcare. This study also suggests a link between high levels of air pollution in the Italian provinces of Lombardy and Emilia Romagna and COVID-19 hotspots. Not only is it unfair that socio-economic and environmental factors may determine health outcomes, but it is also preventable. For this reason, on World Health Day 2021 we are urging governments and policymakers to invest in the creation of health-enabling environments in Europe, in accordance with Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services […]”.

Moreover, from an early stage in the pandemic it was identified that people living with comorbidities such as diabetes were at an increased risk of developing a severe form of the virus, should they be infected. This has led to many experts labelling the COVID-19 as a syndemic. This means that COVID-19 is working in conjunction with risk factors for other diseases and increases the burden of disease for all. Many of these risk factors are all too often linked to the social determinants of health. Therefore, when we discuss “building back fairer and healthier”, we must also focus on building back inclusive, leaving no one behind. Only an integrated system with strong investment in primary health care and a more inclusive approach to vulnerable populations will help address the health inequalities that have been exposed by COVID-19.

We would also like to take this opportunity to announce that we will be hosting a webinar titled ‘Leveraging lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic – the need for an inclusivity shift’. The online event will include a presentation of the results of our Diabetes & COVID-19 survey, along with a discussion around four dimensions of health inclusivity – financial, political, digital, and socio-cultural. Our panellists will conclude by suggesting some of the next steps that need to be taken towards creating a more inclusive and resilient diabetes ecosystem in Europe. The webinar will take place on Thursday, April 22 at 12.00 p.m. CEST. Register for the event via this link. More details will be announced soon.

Leveraging Lessons Webinar 1