#WorldPeaceDay: To Choose Peace is to Choose Health


peace day 2018

Health and peace are closely linked. One cannot have one without the other. Although health and peace are desirable conditions, we human beings often thwart our best intentions to achieve and maintain them. War has profound impacts on human health. In addition to direct consequences, including the fact that 90% of all deaths related to recent wars were among civilians, war has several indirect consequences, including long-term physical and psychological adverse health effects, damage to the social fabric and infrastructure of society, displacement of people, damage to the environment, drainage of human, financial, and other resources away from public health and other socially productive activities, and fostering of a culture of violence. Many public health issues can be both a consequence and a cause of war, including infectious diseases, mental health disorders, the vulnerability of population groups, disparities in health status within and among countries, and weakening of human rights.

Achieving peace requires action from all sectors of society. Indeed we look to the Declaration on the Culture of Peace, which calls for a global transformation from a prevailing culture of war to a culture of peace. Health professionals have a responsibility to help lead this transformation. They can promote peace in many ways and facilitate this work by demonstrating values, vision, and leadership.

Our vision for a healthy global society must include strategies to address violence and the societal conditions that produce violence. It is critical that the health professions prepare students with the knowledge and skills to build a truly healthy global community through education on violence and the interrelated social determinants of health. They should advocate for funding for public health research to advance peace and to create a space for social change actions within professional practice.

Human dignity is a core value underlying both health and peace. It is shared across all health professions and is also the foundational value of human rights. We must demonstrate our commitment to these values by choosing actions that advance peace both within and across societies.
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