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Portraits of Public Health

Did you know that life expectancy — for both men and women — has shot up by 23 years since 1950, extending billions of people’s lives by an average of 45%? April 7 is World Health Day, a day to celebrate the immense strides humanity has taken in improving health outcomes. But it’s also a day to recognize the diseases, pollution, hunger and other roadblocks standing in the way of a healthier world.

When it comes to maintaining our personal health, there’s much we can do ourselves — eat healthy, exercise, schedule regular doctor visits and care for our mental health. But much is outside of our control, which is why good policy and health care infrastructure are so important.

While at least 140 countries enshrine health as a constitutional human right, many still fail to put their laws into practice, leaving more than half of the world’s population without full health coverage, according to the World Health Organization.

Global Press Journal’s reporters sought out the people in their neighborhoods who are working behind the scenes to keep us healthy. From nurses to social workers, from sanitation staff to activists, these are the people making the world a healthier place.

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