The World Health Organization (WHO) has long emphasized the importance of health as a fundamental human right and a key factor in social and economic development. The organization has repeatedly stated that health is the first priority, and that without good health, individuals and societies cannot thrive.
The idea that health is the first priority has its roots in the Alma-Ata Declaration, a landmark document signed by WHO member states in 1978. The declaration affirmed that health is a basic human right and called for “health for all” by the year 2000. The document also recognized that health is influenced by a wide range of factors, including social, economic, and environmental conditions, and called for a comprehensive approach to healthcare that addressed these underlying determinants of health.
Since the Alma-Ata Declaration, the WHO has continued to advocate for health as the first priority. The organization’s constitution states that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.” This principle has been reiterated in numerous WHO reports, statements, and initiatives over the years.
One of the key arguments for prioritizing health is that good health is essential for human development and well-being. Without good health, individuals are less able to participate fully in society, pursue education and employment opportunities, and enjoy a high quality of life. In addition, poor health can lead to economic losses due to reduced productivity, increased healthcare costs, and other indirect effects.
In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of health as the first priority. The pandemic has had devastating effects on health, economies, and societies around the world. It has also exposed inequalities in access to healthcare and social determinants of health, such as poverty, housing, and education.
The WHO has played a central role in the global response to the pandemic, providing guidance, coordination, and technical support to countries and organizations around the world. The organization has emphasized the importance of health as the first priority in the pandemic response, calling for a coordinated, science-based approach that prioritizes public health over economic considerations.
In addition to responding to the pandemic, the WHO has continued to work towards its long-term goal of achieving health for all. This includes initiatives to improve access to healthcare, address social determinants of health, and promote health equity. The organization has also emphasized the importance of universal health coverage, which aims to ensure that all people have access to the healthcare they need without suffering financial hardship.
Overall, the WHO’s emphasis on health as the first priority reflects a recognition of the fundamental importance of good health for human development and well-being. While there are many competing priorities in the world today, from economic growth to national security to environmental sustainability, the WHO has consistently argued that none of these goals can be achieved without good health. By prioritizing health and working towards health for all, we can create a healthier, more prosperous, and more equitable world for all people.