Every year on April 7th, the World Health Organization celebrates World Health Day. This year, the focus was on health inequities and building a fairer, healthier world for everyone.
COVID-19 has affected people worldwide in very different ways and has highlighted growing health inequities. As the WHO underlined, COVID-19 has hit all countries hard, but its impact has been harshest on those communities which were already vulnerable, who are more exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality health care services and more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.
At an individual level, people with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are being disproportionately effected by COVID, as they are more vulnerable to the disease. This further increases the urgency of tackling NCDs, as the impact of the major NCDs (diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, mental disorders) is already alarming and it is estimated that they are responsible for 86% of deaths in the WHO European region. Many of these NCDs are preventable, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity and certain types of cancers.
With physical inactivity being one of the major risk factors for developing NCDs, the promotion of active, healthy lifestyles is a key part of the solution and can be a significant contributor to decreasing health inequities.