World Health Day is a yearly celebration sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO). The celebration takes place every April 7 and started when the World Health Organization had its First World Health Assembly in 1948, where the assembly decided to celebrate April 7 of each year, starting on 1950, as World Health Day. The World Health Day is celebrated to commemorate the founding of the World Health Organization, and is viewed by the organization as a chance to attract worldwide attention to a subject which is significantly important to global health every year. The WHO arranges international, regional as well as local events which are centered on a particular theme on the day of the celebration.

The World Health Day is recognized by both government and non-governmental organizations which take interest in public health issues and also organize their own activities and feature their support in media reports, such as press releases issued by US Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton and the Global Health Council.

This year’s theme is centered on antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance, according to the WHO’s website, is also known as drug resistance and happens when microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites evolve in ways that render the medications used to cure the infections they caused ineffective.  These evolved microorganisms that have become resistant to antimicrobials are called “superbugs”. This is a major concern because a resistant infection could kill, be contagious, and may burden individuals and society with huge costs.

Antimicrobial agents are medicines which are used to treat infections caused by microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. Antimicrobials include antibiotics, medications used in chemotherapy, antifungals, antiparasitic medicines and antivirals.

Antimicrobial resistance is spurred on by the misuse of medicines; some examples of which include taking inadequate doses, or not finishing a prescribed course of treatment. Substandard medicines, wrong prescriptions and inadequate infection prevention and control also facilitate the spread of drug resistance. A lack of commitment from the government to concentrate its efforts in addressing these issues, poor surveillance, and a dwindling stock of tools to diagnose, treat and prevent also hinder the control of drug resistance.

For this year’s theme on drug resistance, the World Health Organization is issuing a call for action to stop the spread of drug resistance with a six- point policy package for all countries to combat antimicrobial resistance. The WHO is calling on policy makers and planners, the public and patients, practitioners and prescribers, pharmacists and dispensers, and the pharmaceutical industry to think, act, and take responsibility for combating drug resistance.

In Qatar, World Health Day will be celebrated with Aspire, its leading exercise and fitness center, by providing free exercise activities for adults in Aspire Park for today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, in various places all over the world, such as Copenhagen, Rome, London, Moscow, and Strasbourg, the World Health Organization will be facilitating events and seminars to increase awareness about antibiotic resistance and how to go about enforcing the six-point policy.

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