Sunday, 7 April is ‘World Health Day’, a day marked to commemorate the World Health Organisation (WHO) and raise awareness of important subjects related to global health. This year, the theme is ‘Universal health coverage’, which is about ensuring people and communities have access to the quality health services they need, when and where they need them.
While awareness days such as this exist to celebrate the efforts being made by people and organisations, they also serve as a reminder of the work still to do.
The message of World Health Day is close to my heart and chimes with the founding purpose of Bupa, which was ‘to prevent, relieve and cure sickness and ill-health of every kind’.
We want to play our part in a world where people feel well and stay healthy, and beyond the care we provide to our customers, we are always looking at how we can engage, support and serve the communities we work in.
In 2018, we invested around £6m in improving the health of the people who live in our communities, through direct financial donations including community grants, fund matching and donations. We involve partners, employees and customers to invest financially and in other ways, such as providing clinical expertise and access to resources, employee-led volunteering and arranging fundraising opportunities for our community partners.
I’d like to call out a few examples of the work we’re doing in this area. In Australia, our Reconciliation Action Plan is a community-led approach that focuses on ending rheumatic heart disease where Australia has some of the highest rates in the world, seen almost exclusively in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
In Spain, the Sanitas Foundation’s flagship programme promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in sport and physical activity so that they can access healthy lifestyles; last year it hosted the first World Cycling Virtual Cup for Inclusion as part of their ninth Inclusive Sports Week. It trained students and teachers in inclusive sports and held the first ever Inclusive Final Series of Spain’s Schools Sports Championship in table tennis, rugby and swimming.
In the UK, the Bupa UK Foundation funds practical projects to tackle specific challenges in health and social care with a particular focus on mental health in mid-life. Recent funding has supported Groundswell Homeless Health Peer Advocacy Service to help people experiencing homelessness to address mental health issues and helped Sign Health, the deaf health charity, with funding to create the UK’s first online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy resource in British Sign Language. Helping people with hearing difficulties to access the mental health support they need.
Our business in Poland, LUX MED, has focused on upskilling young people with First Aid techniques to empower them to help others. Our teams have carried out numerous workshops in schools and partnered with the Orange Foundation, to promote a free First Aid app. Last year our employees in Hong Kong volunteered in a series of elderly care activities in partnership with the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association to combat social isolation.
In Saudi Arabia, our associate business, Bupa Arabia, has provided since 2011 free healthcare and insurance to orphans living in foster homes who would otherwise not have access.
Helping people to live longer, healthier, happier lives is part of who we are at Bupa. It’s what we do alongside our customers, our people, our partners, suppliers and wider society. There is still a lot of progress to be made worldwide before universal health coverage is a reality, but I’m proud of working for an organisation who’s playing its part to make this happen.