National Health Observances (NHOs) are special days, weeks, or months dedicated to raising awareness about important health topics. December hosts two health awareness events: World Aids Day on December 1st and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities Day on December 3rd.
World Aids Day
World AIDS Day takes place on 1 December each year. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.
Globally, there are an estimated 38 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS related illnesses, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, each year in the UK over 4,139 people are diagnosed with HIV, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.
World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities Day
International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is a United Nations (UN) day that is celebrated every year on 3 December.
More than 1 billion people experience disability, and this figure is predicted to rise, due in part to population ageing and an increase in the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases. Despite this, few countries have adequate mechanisms in place to respond fully to the health priorities and requirements of persons with disabilities.
- Many of us will experience disability in our lifetime, particularly as we grow older
- WHO commits to supporting countries to realize a world where health systems are inclusive and persons with disabilities can attain their highest possible standard of health.
- COVID-19 has resulted in further disadvantage and increased vulnerability for many persons with disabilities due to barriers in the health and social sectors, including discriminatory attitudes and inaccessible infrastructure.
- Building back better requires persons with disabilities to be central to health sector decision making, to ensure barriers are addressed in an inclusive and timely way.
- Disability inclusion in the health sector is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do, as it directly contributes to the achievement of broader global and national health priorities.
The day is about promoting the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities at every level of society and development, and to raise awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of political, social, economic, and cultural life. The World Health Organization joins the UN in observing this day each year, reinforcing the importance of securing the rights of people with disabilities, so they can participate fully, equally and effectively in society with others, and face no barriers in all aspects of their lives.
Annually WHO decides on a theme and develops evidence-based advocacy materials such as brochures, flyers, posters, banners, infographics, and presentations, among others. These materials are shared with partners in government and civil society around the world as well as WHO regional and country offices. At its headquarters in Geneva, WHO organizes an annual IDPD event to educate the public, raise awareness, advocate for political will and resources, and celebrate WHO’s achievements.
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