40 global cities join partnership to improve health
Partnership for Healthy Cities will implement policies that tackle accidents and noncommunicable diseases, which kill 44 million people annually
Report from – Damien Carr
Shanghai skyline (Image:'Look Behind You' by Jonathan Kos-Read CC)
Mayors from 40 cities have signed up to join the Healthy Cities Partnership, launched on 16 May by former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who is the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs). The Partnership will seek to reduce NCDs and injuries through health and economic policies.
NCDs, which include heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, respiratory diseases plus injuries such as road-traffic accidents are the cause of 44 million deaths around the world each year. However, despite NCDs being responsible for 67% deaths in low-and-middle-income countries and account for trillions in economic losses, only 1% of total development funds goes towards their reduction.
Bloomberg believes that that small changes at the community level can have a significant have on reducing NCDs, which account for eight in 10 deaths globally. “The Partnership for Healthy Cities unites cities whose mayors are committed to healthier lives for their citizens and to leading the charge globally to reduce NCDs and injuries. The actions of these mayors can prevent millions of needless deaths and protect the health of generations to come, while making our cities more prosperous.”
Highlighting the lack of adequate laws and infrastructure to combat the health issues posed by unhealthy food, tobacco and air pollution, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said:
“Mayors and other local leaders have the power to make changes to protect their citizens from such risks. Millions of lives can be saved from cancers and heart and lung diseases by making food and opportunities for physical activity more available, public and workplaces smoke-free, and by banning all forms of tobacco advertisement. Making our roads safer can prevent many lives being lost in crashes. Safe roads that include, for example, designated spaces for pedestrians and cyclists, promote physical activity.”
Over the next 18 months, participating cities will work with Bloomberg Philanthropies and technical experts including WHO to implement one of 10 evidence-based policy interventions, such as creating smoke-free cities, banning tobacco advertising and reducing road deaths by lowering speed limits.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed $5M USD in seed grants, as well as advice and help from public health experts, to support committed cities in developing and implementing policies to address NCDs and injuries. As part of the Partnership, cities also have access to a global network of mayors, which will improve collaborations and the sharing of good practices and lessons learned.
Among the 40 cities currently in the partnership are, Addis Ababa, Bangalore, Dhaka, Kiev, Ho Chi Minh City, Chicago, Shanghai and Mexico City.