World Health Day 2019 in Maldives: Primary Health Care retains focus

Every year, The World Health Day is celebrated on 7th April. World Health day each year revolves around a theme or an area of importance in health that is identified by the WHO and shared with member countries to promote advocacy with engagement of all partners, leaders, media and the community. The theme for this year is “Primary Health Care (PHC)” a critical foundation for Universal Health Coverage.

As a formal gathering, WHO Maldives held its annual World Health Day reception. The reception highlighted the importance of Primary Health Care as a foundation for achieving Health for All.

During the ceremony, Chief Guest Minister of Health Honorable Abdulla Ameen e-launched the “WHO Partnership for Advancing Health” document which enclosed the key highlights of WHO’s support to the government of Maldives from year 2018, in pursuit to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

The ceremony highlighted the importance of using innovative technology in health, and so Digital Kiosks were introduced to the audience which contained interactive Health Games including Puzzles and Q&A. Chief Guest Minister of Health Honorable Abdulla Ameen and Minister of Higher Education Honorable Dr Ibrahim Hassan together with WHO Representative Dr Arvind Mathur set the Digital Kiosks in motion for the audience to enjoy.

Shortlisted participants from Maldives who took part in the WHO South East Asia Art Competition on Primary Health Care received gifts of appreciation from Dr Arvind Mathur. The recipients of the gifts were Ms Rafa Ahmed (18 years, Addu, S. Hithadhoo), Ms Yasha Shafee Shafeeg (11 years, K. Male’) and Ms Mariyam Shaarath Shareef (11 years, K. Hulhumale), Ms Yasha Shafee Shafeeg and Ms Mariyam Shaarath Shareef also won second place in the Regional under 12 years category.

As part of the agenda, students from Center for Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) performed a Skit on the importance of Primary Health Care. The students showcased life on a fictional island in Maldives, where primary health care is at the heart of the community. They presented a family that receives Primary Health Care from birth to final stages of life and beyond.

Amongst the esteemed invitees in addition to Chief Guest Minister of Health Honorable Abdulla Ameen and Minister of Higher Education Honorable Dr Ibrahim Hassan included Ambassadors, Partners and Colleagues whom all chimed in for a Shout of Solidarity pledging “YES to UHC!” at the end of our ceremony.

Nationwide, World Health Day was celebrated and initiated by Health Centers, Regional and Atoll Hospitals and Tertiary hospitals; by providing health information, free health screenings, partaking in Walks, Runs and through physical activity; a true example of Universal Health Coverage at all three levels. Faculty of Health Sciences in Maldives conducted a special session titled “Primary Health Care Journey of the Maldives” where the Student Union of the Maldives National University performed a drama on Primary Health Care. Guest Speakers addressed the audience, highlighting and sharing their experience during Faculty of Health Science’s 45 years of Human Resource support for health in Primary Health Care.

To kickstart World Health Day activities, WHO partnered with the Government of Maldives to conduct a Health Fair. Minister of Health Honorable Abdulla Ameen together with WHO Representative Dr Arvind Mathur commemorated the event by visiting the different stalls. The stalls were organized by NGOS and Public and Private Health Institutions in partnership with Health Protection Agency.

Some key health activities that were focused around in this year’s World Health Day include Screenings (for Diabetes, Hypertension, BMI), activities such as Blood Donation, Health Information on Nutrition, Mental Health, First Aid Response, Physical activity, and role play on Road Safety etc. Members of the public including children, parents, young adults and older population gathered at the fair to gain knowledge on these different health topics and to take part in screenings.

Government of Maldives has a well-established health system that is already based around the key principals of Primary Health Care. As we celebrated WHO’s 71st Birthday this year, our stand is towards respecting, protecting and fulfilling the right to the highest attainable standard of health for everyone, everywhere; WHO’s Founding constitution.

WHO continues to work with the Government of Maldives to identify priority areas for improving health and context-specific approaches which draw on technical expertise, by developing inclusive policies in country leadership and health which promote equity in health and to address the gaps, challenges and social determinants of health through multisectoral action.