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Cities urged to make health a top priority

By Shan Juan and Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-22 07:36

Shanghai Declaration calls for strong action by authorities to protect people's well-being

More than 1,000 participants endorsed a declaration highlighting government responsibility in health promotion, which was released on Monday, the opening day of a global health conference in Shanghai.

The Shanghai Declaration on Health Promotion calls for strong, bold approaches to health promotion.

"We commit to apply fully the mechanisms available to government to protect health and promote well-being," the declaration reads.

The Ninth Global Conference on Health Promotion, which includes more than 100 mayors from around the world, runs from Monday to Thursday.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, said: "Health is an endpoint that reflects the success of multiple other goals. Because the determinants of health are so broad, progress in improving health is a reliable indicator of progress in implementing the overall agenda."

Wang Longde, chairman of the China Preventive Medicine Association, said governments must pay attention to health targets while setting development goals.

Innovation and an open attitude should guide the process, he added. For instance, China's ongoing healthcare reform is shifting more focus from treatment to prevention.

Liu Yuanli, dean of the School of Public Health at Peking Union Medical College, said that the human resources and social security authorities, which run the public health insurance programs for hundreds of millions of people, "act only as a cashier handling medical bills, but that's far from enough".

They should also play a role helping people stay healthy, he said. "Cover effective prevention in addition to treatment."

He suggested that health promotion should be considered while evaluating officials' performances, and that governments at all levels set up health promotion committees to put forward measures and policies enhancing people's health.

Siddika Mithani, president of the Public Health Agency of Canada, said health challenges today, such as epidemic chronic diseases, need cross-department collaboration.

The Shanghai Declaration comes at a crucial time to guide future practice, she said.

"We call on all mayors and urban leaders, regardless of whether their cities are big or small, rich or poor, to join this movement of making bold political choices for health," reads the consensus.

The mayors promised to prioritize policies that combine health and other city policies, and develop partnership-based urban planning.

Patricia Chase Green, mayor of Georgetown, capital of Guyana, said that although the development of cities varies, the key challenges are similar.

"As mayors, we are key players and driving forces in creating conditions and settings for our citizens to live healthy lives and creating healthy cities for our citizens," she said.

Shin Young-soo, regional director of WHO Western Pacific Region, said: "Mayors can make a difference. They are on the front line of creating healthy cities and they're responsible for enabling their citizens have access to safe water, sanitation and health services."

Leonid Pechatnikov, vice-mayor of Moscow, shared the city's practice of opening 100 free parks and adding lanes for bicycles and pedestrians.

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