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4 February – World Cancer Day 

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and is estimated to account for 9.6 million death in 2018. Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervix and thyroid cancer are the most common among women. The key mission of WHO’s work in cancer control is to promote national cancer control policies, plans and programmes that are harmonized with strategies for noncommunicable diseases and other related health concerns. Our core functions are to set norms and standards for cancer control including the development of evidence-based prevention, early diagnosis, screening, treatment and palliative care programmes as well as to promote monitoring and evaluation through registries and research that are tailored to the local disease burden and available resources.

Read more:
WHO Homepage
Union for International Cancer Control
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) publications

22 March – World Water Day

Water is the source of life for our planet. It is powerful and fragile at the same time. All humanity together must take care to keep it clean and sparkling. Therefore, since 1992, the World Water Day has been celebrated in the world at the initiative of UNESCO. Its purpose is to draw attention of governments, communities, institutions and people of the world countries to issues relating to the conservation and development of the planet’s water resources.

Read more:
World Water Day Homepage
United Nations

24 March World Tuberculosis Day 

In 1982, in honour of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of R. Koch, the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease recommended that 24 March is recognised as the World Tuberculosis Day.

The World Tuberculosis Day aims to focus on this curable disease that, however, kills two million people worldwide every year.

Read more:
World Health Organization
WHO Global TB programme
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
Stop TB partnership

7 April – World Health Day 

April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization. Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.

Achieving UHC is one of the key targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and it is the focus of World Health Day in 2019. Universal health coverage (UHC) is about ensuring all people and communities have access to quality health services where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship. It includes the full spectrum of services needed throughout life – from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care – and is best based on a strong primary health care system.

Read more:
WHO Homepage
Universal Health Coverage
Primary Health Care

25 April – World Malaria Day

Malaria is predominantly prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions, so Europeans do not pay enough attention to this disease. According to the WHO, about 900 people died from tropical malaria between 1990 and 2003 in European countries. In recent years, the population of Latvia has also had greater opportunities to travel to any country in the world. The risk of developing diseases in other regions is not always considered when planning a trip. As a result, some travellers arrive home with an unplanned „souvenir” of malaria. According to the Latvian Centre of Infectious Diseases, there were 6 malaria patients registered in Latvia in 2009. For this reason, informative events are needed to raise people’s awareness of the disease, emphasising the importance of preventive measures.

Read more:
WHO Homepage
RBM Partnership

12 May International Nursing Day 

12 May is International Nurses Day in honour of the birth of the English nurse, Florence Nightingale, on 12 May 1820.

Each year, the International Council of Nurses raises the theme of the year. For example, the theme for 1994, „Healthy Families for Healthy Nation”, in 2017 „Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”, but 2018 it was „Nurses a Voice to Lead – Health is a Human Right”. The International Council of Nurses believes that it is the nurses who provide access to medical care anywhere.

Read more:
International Council of Nurses 
ICN strategic priorities 
Nursing NOW 

31 May – World No Tobacco Day

Every year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) celebrates 31 May as a day free of tobacco smoke. The use of tobacco kills more than 5 million people worldwide every year, with one person dying of the diseases caused by it every 6 seconds. Nowadays, every second child in the world has at least one parent who smokes. Whereas, 600 000 people die from passive smoking-related illnesses each year. It is important to be aware that tobacco is a preventable cause of death worldwide. 

Read more:
 WHO Homepage

14 June – World Blood Donor Day

Latvia has been actively involved in the blood donor movement. According to the State Blood Donor Centre, 1.5% of the population of Latvia are regular donors. A donor can donate 150 litres of blood or 600 litres of plasma over a lifetime. Our country produces 16.5 tons of erythrocytes, 1 ton of platelets and 25 tons of plasma per year.

Read more:
WHO Homepage
WHO programme on Blood transfusion safety
Blood transfusion. European region information
The State Blood Donor Centre<

28 July  World Hepatitis Day

Hepatitis B and C are considered to be one of the challenges of the healthcare system as it affects approximately 325 million people worldwide. Hepatitis is one of the causes of liver cancer, causing 1.34 million deaths annually.

Hepatitis B and C are chronic infections whose symptoms may not appear until several years later. For example, 60% of cancers are associated with late detection and treatment of hepatitis. The WHO believes that this situation should be changed by 2030.

Read more:
WHO Homepage
Hepatitis publications

17 August – World Breastfeeding Week 

Breast milk contains all the nutrients necessary for the child’s growth, health and development. The World Health Organisation recommends that infants under 6 months of age should only be breastfed (Exclusive Breastfeeding) by abandoning other forms of feeding and water, later continuing breastfeeding in combination with additional feeding up to the child’s two years of age and refusing from any bottles and soothers. 

Read more:
WHO homepage
World Brestfeeding Week homepage

19 August – World Humanatarian Day

On a daily basis, humanitarian aid workers around the world are dedicating their efforts to helping those people affected by the crisis. Natural disasters, armed conflicts, epidemics and other emergencies threaten the lives and health of millions of people every year. 

Read more:
World Humanitarian Day homepage 
European Union

10 September – World Suicide Prevention Day 

Common causes of suicide are mental disorders (depression, personality problems, addictions, schizophrenia) as well as serious incurable diseases (cancer, neurological diseases, HIV/AIDS). Suicide is the cause of death which could often be prevented by timely preventive action.

Read more:
Suicide prevention
Key facts on suicide
The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP)

28 September – World Rabies Day

Rabies is a dangerous infectious disease that is transmitted by sick animals. The disease is fatal and only timely vaccination can prevent it. In developing countries, vaccination is difficult for people to access due to the cost of vaccination. Every year about 55 000 people die from rabies. 

Read more:
WHO Homepage
Global Alliance for Rabies Control

29 September – World Heart Day

Cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of death in the world, accounting for more than 17 million lives annually. Experts consider the following as the main risk factors for the development of these diseases: high blood pressure and blood sugar levels, insufficient consumption of fruit and vegetables, overweight problems, sedentary lifestyle and high daily stress levels.

Read more:
World Heart Federation Homepage
World Hypertension League
World Stroke Organization

10 October – World Mental Health day

Mental and physical health of people is closely interlinked. The WHO emphasises the need to focus on the mental health of people who are physically ill and vice versa – to follow the physical health of people who are mentally ill. 

Read more:
WHO Homepage
World Federation for Mental Health
Key facts on suicide
Suicide prevention
Resource Center for People with Mental Disability, ZELDA

13 October – World Sight Day

The issue of vision problems is topical because, with increasing life expectancy, the human population is facing ageing-related visual impairment such as retinopathy of diabetes, cataract, glaucoma, degeneration of the retina, etc. Taking into consideration the seriousness of the problem, and with a view to educating the public on issues of preservation of vision and promoting the availability of ophthalmic care, the World Sight Day is celebrated annually. It was introduced by the WHO and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to assist with the implementation of the Global Vision 2020: The Right of Sight Initiative.

Read more:
WHO Homepage
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness

14 November – World Diabetes Day

According to the latest International Diabetes data, 220 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, and an increase in the number of patients is prognosticated to double by 2030. At least 50% of people who already have diabetes are not even aware of it. Informative measures are therefore needed to draw people’s attention to this disease, with an emphasis on early diagnosis and prevention.

Read more:
WHO about diabetes
International Diabetes Federation

18 November – World COPD Day

According to the latest WHO data (2007), 210 million people worldwide are currently suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). In 2005, 3 million people died from COPD. According to WHPO forecasts, by 2030 COPD will become the third leading cause of death worldwide.

Read more:
The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease
British Lung Foundation

17 November – World Day of Remembrance

At the suggestion of the World Health Organisation, since November 2005, the third Sunday in November is a day of remembrance for victims of road accidents. This day was introduced to commemorate all road traffic victims and to draw public attention to the serious situation of the families of victims who have to cope with many psychological and practical problems. 

Read more:
The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims 

25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

The World Health Organisation recognises that violence against women is a widespread problem throughout the world. Violence severely affects the physical and mental health of female victims that leads to various types of injuries and often results in death of a woman. 

Read more:
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
Violence Prevention Alliance Homepage

1 December – World AIDS Day

On 1 December 1988, following the initiative of the World Health Organisation, AIDS Day was started to be celebrated in order to raise awareness among people and reduce prejudice about HIV/AIDS and its consequences. On this day, all the people of the world are invited to think about the victims of HIV/AIDS. The international symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness is a red ribbon that symbolises moral support for those infected with HIV/AIDS. 

Read more:
WHO Homepage
The United Nations