Swaziland: Know Your Health Numbers to Mark World Health Day 2019

The Kingdom of Eswatini has intensified its focus on promoting health and wellness towards "Universal Health Coverage, everyone, everywhere", leaving no one behind.

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN family and other partners provided disease prevention and screening services to the people of Eswatini to mark the commemoration of the World Health Day 2019. The services were provided free of charge in the form of a health market on 6 April at the Prince of Wales Stadium in Mbabane.

The day started with a march around Mbabane, led by United Nations Resident Coordinator (UNRC) Ms Nathalie Ndongo-Seh, the WHO Country Representative Dr Cornelia Atsyor, and senior Ministry of Health officials. This was followed by the health market for the whole day. The services provided included screening for non communicable diseases risk factors (tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet) and measuring of blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels, height and weight as well as screening for Tuberculosis, Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection, vision, hearing and kidney injury. A lot of diseases prevention and wellness messages were also disseminated.

The slogan was "Know your health numbers". The emphasis was on encouraging routine medical checkup for early detection of medical conditions to prevent complications and improve health outcomes.

The commemoration of the World Health Day 2019 actually started with a high-level breakfast meeting held at Happy Valley Hotel on 4 April. This served as a launch of the events that followed. Ms Nathalie Ndongo-Seh, Dr Cornelia Atsyor, Mr Tim Rwabuhemba head of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and Ms Phumzile Mabuza head of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) attended the breakfast meeting. There were senior officers of the Ministry of Health led by the Director of Health Services, Dr Vusi Magagula, other government officials, representatives of other development partners, health workers and members of the media.

Speaking on behalf of the United Nations family Ms Ndongo-Seh emphasied that health is a human right and everyone is entitled to good health. However, it is disheartening that half of the world's population experience limited access to health services and that approximately one 100 million people fall into extreme poverty annually due to the inability to access affordable health services. She said, "It is imperative that, collectively, we invest more effort towards improving accessibility of quality of health services towards achieving Universal Health Coverage".

Dr Vusi Magagula who was representing the Honourable Minister of Health, senator Lizzie Nkosi emphasised that knowing one's health numbers and how the levels relate to healthy normal readings is a powerful way of taking charge of one's health. Dr Magagula further urged all the people of Eswatini to keep track of their health numbers annually through the health tracker card. The card is designed to record one's health numbers over a period of five years.

On 5 April 2019, the United Nations staff led by WHO and UNAIDS joined the Universal Health Coverage solidarity chain by holding hands forming the shape of UHC letters. The joining of hands was a symbol of their commitment to bridging gaps and working collaboratively towards universal health coverage. Addressing the UN staff, the WHO Representative Dr Cornelia Atsyor emphasised that Universal health coverage is WHO's number one goal. She mentioned that the key to achieving UHC is ensuring that everyone can obtain the care they need, when they need it, right in the heart of the community, and without financial hardship.

On the same day over 30 staff had their blood pressure, sugar and haemoglobin checked through screening services provided by nursing students from the University of Eswatini and Eswatini Christian Medical University as well as the staff from the national Emergency Preparedness and Reponses Programme (EPR).

The World Health Day commemoration in Eswatini is gaining momentum over the years drawing a lot of media attention and increasing numbers of people attending the events. Since 2018, Eswatini has been carrying out the "Know your health numbers" campaign every 7 April and will continue for the next 5 years.

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