The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) calendar of health dates aims to save lives, increase the well-being of those affected by diseases, and raise awareness among key stakeholders and decision makers about the major diseases affecting the populations of the Americas.
BIREME/PAHO/WHO offers specialized scientific and technical literature, selected from the databases that make up the Virtual Health Library, on many of the health conditions and illnesses listed in the calendar. Recently, new methodologies such as the Windows of Knowledge join the strategies developed by the Center to support the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of these conditions.
Malaria Day in the Americas
It is important to highlight Malaria Day in the Americas, celebrated on November 6, in its fifteenth year of celebration, which offers the countries of the Americas the opportunity to encourage the participation of different actors and stakeholders in the fight against malaria.
Urgent action is needed to get the global response to malaria back on track – and ownership of the challenge lies in the hands of countries most affected by malaria. On the occasion of Malaria Day in the Americas 2021, and in keeping with this consolidated effort by the global malaria community to highlight the reported successes and the remaining challenges in malaria today, the Region is adapting the same theme used by WHO for the commemoration of World Malaria Day 2021: “Reaching the zero malaria target”. As in the previous year, PAHO highlights the importance of sustained malaria efforts while protecting health workers during COVID-19 pandemic.
World Mental Health Day
The campaign launched by PAHO/WHO on mental health focused especially on the condition resulting from the covid-19 pandemic in health workers and the physical and mental overload, and the constant risk of infection to which frontline health care professionals are subjected during the care of Covid-19 patients. The focus of the campaign was to encourage them to share their experiences and strategies to manage and face this additional challenge in fulfilling their professional responsibilities.
The Mental Health Now – Tell Your Story campaign intends to compile written and video stories of health professionals in the Americas through social networks – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to be disseminated on the PAHO institutional website and its social network pages until the end of 2021, with the objective of portraying the magnitude of the pandemic’s effects and showing the diversity of the Americas.
Preliminary data from the Covid-19 HEalth caRe wOrkErS (HEROES) study, a collaboration between the University of Chile, Columbia University (USA), and PAHO indicates that 5-15% of health professionals interviewed from various countries in the Americas reported suicidal thoughts and 15-22% reported symptoms compatible with depression. The HEROES study includes 11 countries in the Americas and the results will be available in November.
It must be considered that the pandemic affected not only health professionals, but the general public, as they faced news about the pandemic, deaths of family and/or friends, job losses, economic crisis, domestic violence, school closings, and persistent widespread disinformation. At the same time, services that could support citizens in meeting these challenges were disrupted by the pandemic. Even before Covid-19, the gap in treatment – the percentage of people who require care but do not get it – is on the order of 80% in some places in the Americas, and affects particularly poor, low-educated, unemployed and people in groups susceptible to social and racial discrimination.
World Mental Health Day, celebrated worldwide on 10 October, is organized by the World Federation for Mental Health with support from the WHO. The celebration of the date reflects the worldwide commitment to raising awareness on mental health issues and mobilizing support for this important aspect of human health.
In the Mental Health Window of Knowledge it is possible to consult action plans, recommendations for interventions during the COVID-19 pandemic, an implementation guide for suicide prevention, and other reference documents. The topics covered on World Mental Health Day are supplemented by updated bibliographic filters for publications in the VHL, and communication materials such as videos and information cards.
Source: Pan American Health Organization. 2021. PAHO launches campaign to raise awareness of COVID-19 mental health toll on frontline health workers. Available at: https://www.paho.org/en/news/8-10-2021-paho-launches-campaign-raise-awareness-covid-19-mental-health-toll-frontline-health
World Hypertension Day
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, even in Covid-19 times. About half of deaths from heart disease and stroke are related to hypertension. Hypertension can be easily detected and treated, and its control is essential to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease.
Hypertension and cardiovascular diseases disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries, which account for a third of the number of cases, largely due to the increase in risk factors in these populations, especially in recent decades. Furthermore, about 50% of hypertensive patients are not aware of their condition, putting them at risk – avoidable – of medical complications and death. Accurate blood pressure (BP) measurement is essential for accurate diagnosis and control of hypertension. Although BP measurement is the most commonly performed procedure in clinical medicine and may appear simple, inaccurate assessment can lead to false-negative results and impact proper treatment in 20-45% of cases. Therefore, evaluating health professionals in measuring BP and how to improve this technique are key elements in hypertension control programs.
PAHO/WHO launched the webinar “Accurately measure your BP, learn to control it and live longer!” on World Hypertension Day 2021, celebrated on October 17, to raise awareness about hypertension and promote accurate BP measurement in the Americas. The webinar is still available on the Organization’s YouTube channel. Another video discusses automatic BP measurement devices, and how to use them correctly so that readings are as accurate as possible, since they are performed by the users themselves and not by health professionals.
The Hypertension Window of Knowledge highlights aspects of prevention, risk factors and COVID-19 associated with the topic of Hypertension and the main Cardiovascular Diseases through the search filters for scientific and technical literature in the VHL, considering Practice Guides, Systematic Reviews, Technology Assessments, and other publications that support evidence-based decisions. In this context, PAHO/WHO provides a technical package for managers and health professionals with a strategic approach to improving cardiovascular health, consisting of six modules and an implementation guide. This initiative called HEARTS in the Americas can also be found in the Hypertension Window of Knowledge.
Source: Pan American Health Organization. 2021. World Hypertension Day – 17 May 2021. Available at: https://www.paho.org/en/events/world-hypertension-day-17-may-2021