Today is World Health Day, this year’s theme is something many of us have experienced to some extent during our lives: depression. Alarmingly, depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide and according to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people live with depression. That’s an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. This year’s theme – Depression: Let’s Talk – has never been more needed or timely.
Like so many diseases and illnesses, there is a real stigma around depression and sadly, those with depression not only have to cope with their illness, but the prejudice and discrimination that faces them each day. This World Health Day, we’re shining a light on another disease that comes with its fair amount of stigma: HIV.
In 2016, Mike Worsman and Sashenka Lakshmanasingha, took their cameras overseas and spent their honeymoon filming people who have successfully transformed their lives with the help of Australians and our development aid. This is Joseph’s story.
Since 2000, Australia’s Anglican Overseas Aid has worked in partnership with the Mothers’ Union of the Anglican Church of Kenya to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS in Kenya and support those living with the virus.
As Joseph reveals, his wife died from AIDS in 2004; the Mothers’ Union started its work to diagnose and treat people with HIV in his community in 2006. In that same year, Joseph and his youngest son were also diagnosed with HIV and began treatment thanks to Australia’s aid contribution.
“The difference between my son and wife’s situation is that I am now empowered with knowledge that I can now pass on to my son so he can avoid suffering the same fate.”
Every parent wants to protect their children however best they can and now, Joseph can pass his knowledge onto his son and the wider community, about nutrition, what drugs to take and when. People in Joseph’s community are able to visit the clinic in their local community without fearing judgment.
Every single life is precious and each day, Australians are helping people like Joseph to transform their lives, their families’ lives and their communities. When people don’t have an equal chance to live a happy and healthy life, we always have a moral responsibility to act.
This World Health Day, let’s talk about and support a world where everyone who needs to access healthcare and health education – whether for depression, HIV or another illness – has an equal chance to do so.