Cities worldwide are taking action to combat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries by implementing policies that reduce exposure to risk factors. With more than half of the global population now living in urban settings, ensuring the health and well-being of residents in our world’s urban centers is crucial. This is why the Partnership for Healthy Cities was founded in 2017, a global network of 70 cities that work together to prevent NCDs and injuries. The Partnership is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Vital Strategies.
Source: Bloomberg Philanthropies/Youtube
The first-ever Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit was convened in London, where more than 50 major cities in the partnership discussed urgent public health concerns and best practices that save lives and create healthier cities. During the summit, five global cities were recognized for preventing NCDs and injuries: Montevideo, Uruguay, for food policy; Mexico City, Mexico, for road safety; Vancouver, Canada, for surveillance; Athens, Greece, for overdose prevention; and Bengaluru, India, for tobacco control.
The five cities were awarded a 2023 Partnership for Healthy Cities Award for positively impacting the health of their population and making sustainable and lasting strides toward NCD and injury prevention that can be replicated in other jurisdictions. Each winning city received $150,000 to further its work with the partnership.
1. Athens, Greece, was recognized for increasing access to the opioid overdose reversal agent, naloxone, at community-based organizations and among healthcare professionals. The city also started researching causes of death among people who inject drugs to understand the impact of the overdose crisis better.
2. Bengaluru, India, was recognized for its efforts in tobacco control, explicitly reducing smoking in public places and improving compliance with existing mandates on public smoking bans.
3. Mexico City, Mexico, was recognized for improving road safety and safe and active mobility by launching a bike path on a busy road that led to a 275% increase in cyclists; implementing a shared lane for cyclists and buses separate from cars; establishing loading and unloading areas; and optimizing design and management of roads close to schools.
4. Montevideo, Uruguay, was recognized for establishing nutritional standards for the preparation and sale of food in government agency offices and some public universities, focusing on sodium reduction policies and developing media campaigns and educational materials.
5. Vancouver, Canada, was recognized for making public health data more inclusive and accessible by launching an online public health data tool that tracks population health indicators and working with urban Indigenous communities to inform data management better.
Noncommunicable diseases and injuries are responsible for over 80% of all deaths globally. Mayors worldwide are increasingly uniting to confront this issue, and the Partnership for Healthy Cities will continue to Support their urgent and lifesaving work. “Cities are places where health can be produced or compromised,” said José Luis Castro, President, and CEO, of Vital Strategies. “We applaud the work of urban leaders around the globe in their efforts to create healthier, stronger, and more equitable cities.”
Public health is at risk of becoming less of a priority three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit highlights best practices and proven interventions, which is especially important. As most of the global population continues to live in urban areas, we need to ensure that our cities promote and protect health rather than harm it.
As individuals, we can also take action by making conscious choices that Support a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. We can start by incorporating more plant-based foods into our diets, reducing our consumption of processed and junk foods, and engaging in physical activity daily. We can also advocate for public health policies that prioritize the health and well-being of our communities, such as increased access to healthy.
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