7 reasons to be optimistic about solving the world's health problems

World Health Day has been marked each April 7 for nearly 70 years to raise awareness of the world's most serious health threats.

So much has changed in that time. Phenomenal developments in medicine have brought cures for infectious disease, and international efforts to improve life in poorer countries have brought improvements in nutrition, sanitation, housing and standards of healthcare

Whilst there’s still lots of work to do in global health, let’s take a moment to remember a few of the major achievements we can be proud of.

Four ways we're improving health for everyone

Health is precious. Being unwell can keep us keep us from learning, making a living, and caring for our families. Without good quality healthcare, sickness, pregnancy and infection can mean chronic poverty, suffering and stigma.

Together, we're making a real difference by improving health services where action is needed most.

Home: It will never be quite the same again

VSO volunteer Charlie Taylor from Totnes in South Devon returned from Papua New Guinea in the summer of 2015 after two years helping strengthen community-based organisations of people living with HIV. 

Here Charlie explains how his amazing volunteer experience has impacted his life and given him a totally different perspective on his home.

Single-handedly breaking down HIV stigma: Celina's story

Every day, 410 people in Mozambique are infected with HIV. People like Celina, who was diagnosed when she was just 18 years old.

She was shocked at the level of stigma and insufficient care that women with the virus and in extreme poverty contend with - and decided to take action, bringing together a group of HIV+ women willing to speak out publicly about their status and raise awareness.

Now, with VSO-supported training, her team is not only inspiring women living with HIV to see positive futures, but offering practical home-based care and support that is truly changing lives.

Life as a social worker during "emergency epidemic" of violence

The rates of violence against women in Papua New Guinea are amongst the highest in the world for a country not at war. Despite the regularity of severe attacks, particularly within the family, services to support survivors are few and far between. Robyn Borausiki, 25, is a social worker at Modilon Hospital in Medang where she works alongside VSO volunteer Catherine Bedford, a psychiatric nurse. Robyn is offering survivors a range of psychosocial care, treatment and practical support in their Family Support Centre, giving women who previously suffered in silence a chance to change their circumstances. She explains how she became a champion for women's wellbeing.

Playing my part in a fairer future for disadvantaged Asia Pacific women

VSO Volunteer Catherine Bedford usually works at Modilon General Hospital in Papua New Guinea, offering care and psycho social support to women who have experienced routine physical and sexual violence. Temporarily switching her post for a place at the Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum on Sustainable Development in Bangkok, Catherine reports on how civil society organisations are demanding that the needs of people living in poverty are met by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).