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Strengthening regional cooperation for promoting urban health in Africa

Strengthening regional cooperation for promoting urban health in Africa

With over half of the global population now living in urban settings, cities and their leaders play a critical role in developing, implementing and enforcing policies to create healthy environments for populations. Their engagement is especially critical for tackling noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries, which together kill almost 46 million people globally each year – 80% of all global deaths.

Ten African cities came together in the city of Addis Ababa from the 27-29 August 2019, for the first Africa Regional workshop organized by the Partnership for Healthy Cities. The Partnership for Healthy Cities is a global network of cities committed to saving lives by preventing NCDs and injuries. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies, the initiative helps cities around the world deliver high-impact policies or programmatic interventions to reduce NCD risk factors or prevent injuries in their communities. It is one of a number of projects carried out under the WHO Global Ambassador for NCDs and Injuries, Michael R. Bloomberg.

“I am happy to be here with all of you for this important regional workshop. It is initiatives like this that bring about long-lasting positive impact in our communities and cities at large”, said Dr. Solomon Kidane, Deputy Mayor of Addis Ababa in his opening remarks.

The three-day workshop provided city technical leads with an opportunity to strengthen regional cooperation, exchange experiences and deliberate on future strategies to protect citizens from NCDs and injuries. Participants discussed plans for new programs addressing road safety, tobacco control and healthy food. The representatives from the ten cities also had the opportunity to visit parts of Addis to see the progress the city has made in improving road safety under the Partnership and the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety. 

Speaking at the event, Dr. Aggrey Bategereza, Officer-In-Charge for WHO Ethiopia, highlighted the important role cities play in promoting health and preventing disease burdens. Dr. Aggrey reiterated the commitment of WHO to support and collaborate with the initiative.

Dr Suvajee Good, Programme Manager for Health Promotion and Determinants of Health in the WHO-Africa Regional Office (AFRO), provided examples of WHO’s other work in cities in the region carried out under the WHO Healthy Cities AFRO network. She summarized historic activities and future plans to expand technical capacity to support cities in the region across multiple topics connected with urban health, including NCDs and injuries, social determinants of health, equity, housing and sanitation.

Each city at the Addis workshop has chosen to work on an intervention linked to NCD or injury prevention, from a list of technical topics supported by the Partnership. During the workshop the representatives drafted work plans for their chosen interventions for the next period of activities, and have now returned to their cities to focus on implementation.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.

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Deputy Mayor of Addis Ababa City giving opening remarks

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