Keep the cities of the world healthy – The WHO

THE World Health Organization urges world leaders to keep the cities of the world healthy by continually creating and improving their the physical and social environment through solutions that are often simple and affordable like having reliable public transport, bike paths, car-free zones, and safe green spaces for recreation among others.

The WHO issued the appeal during the recently concluded WHO’s European Healthy Cities Network Summit of Mayors in Copenhagen, Denmark which was attended by 43 mayors and 85 other political representatives from Europe and Africa.

During the two-day summit (Feb. 12 and 13), the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urges leaders to commit to healthier cities at the WHO’s European Healthy Cities Network Summit of Mayors. He noted that more than half of the world’s population lives in cities and that number is growing.

Cities are places where human health can either flourish or be destroyed. Keep your city healthy by continually creating and improving its physical and social environment. The solutions are often simple and affordable – reliable public transport, bike paths, car-free zones, safe green spaces for recreation.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urges leaders to commit to healthier cities at WHO’s European Healthy Cities Network Summit of Mayors. A healthy city is conscious of health and strives to improve it.

The summit also witnessed the signing of the Copenhagen Consensus, which affirms political commitment to the role of cities in creating a healthier and happier future, and acts as a political mandate for the Network.

Copenhagen Consensus

The Copenhagen Consensus is based on eight key pillars:

  1. We commit to take action together to improve the health and well-being of all who live, love, learn, work and play in our cities.

  2. A healthy city leads by example, by emphasizing a human focus in societal development and by prioritizing investment in people to improve equity and inclusion through enhanced empowerment.

  3. A healthy city leads by example, with the social, physical and cultural environments aligned to create a place that is actively inclusive, and facilitates the pursuit of health and well-being for all.

  4. A healthy city leads by example, by ensuring the participation of all individuals and communities in the decisions that affect them and the places in which they live, work, love and play.

  5. A healthy city leads by example, by striving for enhanced community prosperity and strengthened assets through values-based governance of common goods and services.

  6. A healthy city leads by example, by promoting peace through inclusive societies that focus on places, participation, prosperity and the planet, while putting people at the centre of all policies and actions.

  7. A healthy city leads by example, by ensuring that the protection of the planet is at the heart of all city policies, both internal and external.

  8. We commit to act collectively with other cities in both the WHO European Region and globally, through a focus on people, participation, prosperity, planet, places and peace, for the health and well-being of all, to meet the urgent and transformative demands of the 2030 Agenda.

Moreover, as a guide to world leaders in their quest to keep their cities flourishing, the WHO also released a Healthy city checklist.

A healthy city aims to provide:

  • A clean, safe physical environment of high quality (including housing quality);

  • An ecosystem that is stable now and sustainable in the long term;

  • A strong, mutually supportive and non-exploitative community;

  • A high degree of participation in and control by the citizens over the decisions affecting their lives, health and well-being;

  • The meeting of basic needs (food, water, shelter, income, safety and work) for all the city’s people;

  • Access by the people to a wide variety of experiences and resources, with the chance for a wide variety of contact, interaction and communication;

  • A diverse, vital and innovative economy;

  • Connectedness with the past, with the cultural and biological heritage of city dwellers and with other groups and individuals;

  • A form that is compatible with and enhances the preceding characteristics;

  • An optimum level of appropriate public health and sickness care services, accessible to all; and

  • High health status (high levels of positive health and low levels of disease).

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