Sharjah, UAE: Sharjah is set to join a global WHO programme, Healthy Cities, in a bid to improve the well-being of people in the city.
The programme aims to improve health and the environment in cities by giving priority to the upgrading of environmental health services and improving the physical conditions in which people live and work.
The ultimate goal is achieving health for all.
Through the plan, health is improved across society as hospitals, the government and municipality come together to improve lifestyle habits, fitness, food consumption, living conditions, streets, water supplies, etc.
Sharjah has already met 35 of the 80 criteria indicated by WHO to be declared a healthy city, Asma Al Khodri, Coordinator and Secretary General of “Sharjah a healthy city”, said at the second workshop dedicated to the project.
In three years, Sharjah aims to meet the 80 criteria to be listed as one of WHO’s Healthy Cities.
Sharjah was among the first countries in the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, to apply to be part of the programme earlier this year.
Since then, Asma said, plans have been devised to meet the standards of healthy cities.
A delegation from Sharjah Health City attended a meeting in Egypt earlier this year, in which representatives from other cities belonging to the Eastern Mediterranean Region Office shared their experiences in the Healthy Cities programme, in order to learn from them.
Asma explained that the team is focusing on implementing the programme in Sharjah city first, and then extending the project to Sharjah’s Eastern Region and finally its Central Region.
“The healthy cities concept is based on community participation and partnership between municipal authorities, civil society, individuals and all other bodies to take action to improve health, the environment and the quality of life in cities,” said Dr Salah Al Badawi, health policy adviser from the Ministry of Health.
Among the criteria to be a healthy city is having healthy food that is accessible to everyone, having health facilities that handle contemporary health problems, having facilities for early detection of non-infectious diseases, having safe housing conditions and adequate health awareness, he said.
What makes a city “healthy”, he explained, is not being disease-free or having a good health system, but the city being aware of its health problems and actively working to fix them.
He said that health cities aim to build centres where healthy people go for check ups, not just clinics where people go when they are sick.
“These centres are for disease prevention, not for treatment. If one is found sick, they will be transferred to a clinic or a hospital for treatment.”
He added that one of the goals of the programme is to promote the concept of prevention.
© Gulf NewsSep 2012