World Health Day 2024: My Health, My Right
April 7, 2024

World Health Day 2024: My Health, My Right

Author: Iryna Snytiuk

People  often engage in discussions about the most important aspects of life – success, money, family, friends, or career. However, one crucial element is often overlooked – health. We tend to neglect the importance of our well-being, setting other priorities and often undermining our health. On 7 April, we celebrate World Health Day, established to mark the anniversary of the founding of the European World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948. In 2024, the theme of World Health Day is  ‘My health, my right’, a slogan which  aims to ensure access to quality health services regardless of location, or social or economic status.

Despite the recognition by 140 states that health is a fundamental right, access to that right and to the health and educational services necessary to safeguard it, is still dependent on the successful implementation of laws and treaties.  Furthermore, it is essential to distinguish between different types of health, since  both physical and mental health are equally important aspects of overall well-being.  According to the WHO, over half the world’s population,  more than 4.5 billion individuals, did not have access to essential health care, either in terms of physical or mental health in 2021. This disparity underscores the urgent need for global action and initiatives which can be rolled out effectively through collaboration between proactive youth, communities, and projects such as the Young European Ambassadors.

At the same time, it’s also crucial to acknowledge the important role played by  intergovernmental organisations in addressing global health challenges. Their actions and initiatives play a significant role in complementing efforts at national and local levels. Health is indeed an investment, and the European Union’s commitment to this principle is evident through initiatives like the EU4Health programme. With a substantial budget of €5.3 billion allocated for the 2021-2027 period, this unparalleled financial support sends a clear message that public health is a top priority for the EU, as it lays the foundations  for the establishment of a European Health Union.

One notable initiative under the EU4Health programme is the Joint Action ImpleMENTAL, which aims to implement best practices in mental health across Europe. Involving 21 member states and supported by a financial contribution of €5.4 million, JAImpleMENTAL constitutes a collaborative effort to address mental health challenges.

But it is important to recognise that it’s not only institutional actions that can have an impact. Small, local projects can enable each of us to make a difference through educational and awareness campaigns around sustainable health development. I had the privilege of being an ambassador for a remarkable UNICEF/UNESCO collaboration called ‘The World’s Largest Lesson.’ This initiative aimed to educate students in small communities about the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a particular focus on Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, as well as Goal 13: Climate Change Action, something which has become an urgent priority after the damage done to the environment during COVID-19. I conducted interactive activities with more than 200 students, engaging them in discussions about ways of improving their physical health through the everyday presence of sports in their lives, as well as the significance of mental health, something which in my experience, was often neglected during primary and middle school. The impact of these educational campaigns was palpable. I witnessed firsthand how this kind of awareness-raising about disease prevention, healthy lifestyle choices, and the importance of early disease detection, was very relevant to the young participants.

There have been  concerted efforts by  Ukrainian organisations to address the mental health challenges created  by the prolonged consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war, in particular the impact of events such as the occupation of territories, losses of close family members, bombing of civilian infrastructure, captivity, and emigration. One example is the  ‘How are you?’ initiative under the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Programme, organised by Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska. This  campaign aims to foster a culture of caring for our mental health, offering understanding and the tools to help Ukrainians care for their inner well-being during a time of war. In the Volyn region,where I come from, the initiative has involved a comprehensive mapping of mental health services across 496 establishments. Over 100 educational events and training opportunities have been organised to raise awareness. As a native of the Volyn region, I am proud of the effforts made by volunteers and institutions to implemented other initiatives such as the Coordination Centre for Civilian Support, established to focus on mental health and psychosocial support. Twenty  healthcare institutions in this region have been designated as providers of  psychiatric care. By promoting awareness of and access to mental health services, as well as empowering individuals with resources to care for their own well-being, Ukrainian organisations are building the way for a healthier and more resilient society, at the same time as they are promoting the goals of World Health Day and the slogan “My health, my right”.

Global initiatives to ensure access to quality healthcare for all, despite location or socioeconomic status, can be a very effective way of confronting challenges to  health and well-being. Through measures such as the EU Health programme  and  JAImpleMENTAL, intergovernmental organisations are addressing health challenges and promoting better mental health across Europe. Additionally, local, smaller-scale actions, such as my involvement in ‘The World’s Largest Lesson’ raise awareness and empower younger generations to prioritise their health. World Health Day on 7 April with the theme ‘My health, my right’ serves as a reminder that health is not just the absence of disease, but a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Through collective action and solidarity, we can achieve universal access to healthcare services, promote health equity, and foster healthier and more resilient communities worldwide.

Interested in the latest news and opportunities?

This website is managed by the EU-funded Regional Communication Programme for the Eastern Neighbourhood ('EU NEIGHBOURS east’), which complements and supports the communication of the Delegations of the European Union in the Eastern partner countries, and works under the guidance of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, and the European External Action Service. EU NEIGHBOURS east is implemented by a GOPA PACE-led consortium. It is part of the larger Neighbourhood Communication Programme (2020-2024) for the EU's Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood, which also includes 'EU NEIGHBOURS south’ project that runs the EU Neighbours portal.

The information on this site is subject to a Disclaimer and Protection of personal data. © European Union,