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World Health Day was celebrated on Friday (7 April). The day provides a unique opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.

The theme of 2017 World Health Day is "Depression: Let’s talk".

World Health Organization (WHO) is leading a global campaign on depression for World Health Day 2017. Its goal is to enable more people with mental disorders to live healthy, productive lives. Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. More than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015.

According to the WHO, depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds.

BACKGROUND

In 1945 diplomats from a range of countries formed the United Nations. One of the organizations formed was the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which first met in 1946. During this meeting, there were calls for the establishment of an organization in the United Nations, which would be dedicated to health issues.

The new organization would carry on the work of the Office International d'Hygiène Publique (the International Office for Public Hygiene) and the health units of the League of Nations. These organizations were established in the early years of the 20th century, but were overburdened by the huge health consequences of the aftermath of World War I and were unable to function effectively when World War II started. It would also carry on the work of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, which provided medical aid to millions of people in the aftermath of the devastating military action in Europe during the last part of World War II.

The World Health Organization was founded on April 7, 1948. Since then, the organization has carried out a huge amount of valuable work, including the global eradication of smallpox and the implementation of a wide range of public health strategies. Now, 193 countries are members and the organization is still working to improve many aspects of health around the world.

At the First World Health Assembly in 1948, the delegates called for a World Health Day to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization. This has been held on April 7 every year since 1950. The day is used to draw attention to particular priorities in global health.


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