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April 7 marks world health day

It seems strange to celebrate world health day amidst a global pandemic that has seen the entire world shut down – and revealing the weaknesses and the vulnerability of our health care systems –, but it is now more than ever that we must celebrate this important day and what it represents.

The theme and focus for this year's World Health Day is 'nurses and midwives' who play a critical role in keeping the world healthy – particularly through these unprecedented times.

As written by the UN, "Nurses and other health workers are at the forefront of COVID-19 response - providing high quality, respectful treatment and care, leading community dialogue to address fears and questions and, in some instances, collecting data for clinical studies. Quite simply, without nurses, there would be no response."

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the good

Life expectancy around the world is on the rise

One way to assess health in a population is by looking at mortality data. Life expectancy is the most commonly used measure to aggregate mortality data in order to describe a population’s health. It measures how many years, on average, a person is expected to live based on current age and sex-specific death rates.

Of course this measurement does not include the inequality of healthcare and who are those most vulnerable within a country's economic, political and medical hierarchy. But this graph compiled by Our World in Data shows the steep increase in life expectancy in years the world over, which generally indicates an improved healthcare system an economy that allows its citizens to live in better conditions.

The bad

more investment is needed in nurses

In a report published by the World Health Organisation on April 6, titled 'State of the World's Nursing Report', WHO outlines the gaps in the world's investment into the nursing workforce that spans across education, jobs and leadership.

The report also highlights how despite the crucial role nurses play on the front line – so vividly seen in the current COVID-19 crisis – there are just 28 million nurses around the world, which is a shortfall of over 5 million of what there needs to be.

While we all clap for our workers and share articles, posts and stories on our 'heroes' we need to be vigilant that this current empathy and appreciation does not go silent after the crisis has passed. Nurses in particular but the entire public healthcare systems of our world are suffering grave cuts and we can no longer look the other way.

health africa

Innovations are giving Africa’s healthcare a new lease of life

by Bob Koigi

In Sub Saharan Africa, technology, combined with savvy and innovative youth, is providing unprecedented home grown solutions for the most biting problems.

Ending the stigma: How to start a menstrual health revolution in Myanmar

by Henriette Ceyrac

Pan Ka Lay work to dispel the socio-cultural stigma and increase education surrounding menstruation in Myanmar.

Acute shortages and strikes turn Zimbabwe’s hospitals into places of death

by Cyril Zenda

One evening in early September, Memory Nota suspected that her husband, Bornwell, who was writhing in pain, could have been suffering from hernia. With the help of neighbours, she rushed him to Parirenyatwa Hospital, one of the country’s five major referral hospitals. Barely 24 hours later, she was a widow.
Country focus

The landlocked European country with a total population of just 8.3 million people, is known for its political neutrality that has allowed it to become one of the world's wealthiest and most stable nations. Switzerland's neutrality means that it will not become involved in armed conflict unless it is being directly under attack.

Switzerland's mandatory basic health insurance requirement guarantees everybody living in Switzerland affordable access to medical care which is oftentimes dubbed the best in the world.