Wednesday, April 7, 2010

World Health Day

Today is World Health Day which this year has a special focus on urbanization and health. The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes this day will highlight the effects urbanization has on the welfare of people who live and work in cities. With the campaign "1000 cities, 1000 lives" there will be worldwide events to to open public spaces for health.

The global goals of the campaign are:

  • 1000 cities: to open up public spaces to health, whether it be activities in parks, town hall meetings, clean-up campaigns, or closing off portions of streets to motorized vehicles.
  • 1000 lives: to collect 1000 stories of urban health champions who have taken action and had a significant impact on health in their cities.

Six out of 10 people will live in urban areas by 2030, says the WHO, which promotes World Health Day on 7 April each year to commemorate the founding of the organization 62 years ago.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director General, said: "Cities concentrate threats to health such as inadequate sanitation and refuse collection, pollution, road traffic accidents, outbreaks of infectious diseases and also unhealthy lifestyles."

"The wide range of health issues in cities and its determinants require coordinated policies and actions across multiple disciplines including environment, transport, education, parks and recreation, and urban planning," WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Ala Alwan said in the WHO press release. "We are at a critical turning point in history where we can make a difference," he said.

A billion people worldwide live in urban slums and increasing urbanization has created many health-related problems, WHO research has found.

"Poor health shreds communities, undermines economic opportunity, and holds back progress. And it denies children around the world the opportunity to live up to their full God-given potential. These are global challenges that demand a global response," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in statement marking World Health Day, where she outlines several U.S. commitments aimed at improving the public health of populations living in urban environments. "On this World Health Day, let us renew our resolve to work together to meet the global health challenges of the 21st century."

Check out the "1000 cities, 1000 lives" social media site at and watch this video to learn more: