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Conference concludes now is time for action on health

By Shan Juan | | Updated: 2016-11-24 18:17

The baton was passed on to leaders from city governments, private sectors and communities to promote health at the closing ceremony of the Ninth Global Conference on Health Promotion in Shanghai on Thursday.

Cui Li, vice-minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said the four-day conference and the documents issued at it had set the direction for global health promotion and governance.

"That has been endorsed by all attendees of the conference from around the world and now we are looking forward to actions by ministers and city mayors to promote health," she said at the closing ceremony.

The conference issued two major documents — the Shanghai Declaration on Health Promotion and the Shanghai Consensus on Healthy Cities — which promote effective governance, healthy cities and improving health literacy as pillars for health promotion.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, declared the conference a success and reiterated that health is a political choice, adding that "profit should not be prioritized over people’s health."

WHO China Representative Bernhard Schwartlander urged leaders from different sectors to commit to taking concrete action to promote health and sustainable urban development.

Gabriella Sozanski, a board member of the Alliance For Health Promotion in Geneva, Switzerland, said: "It is up to us whether we can attain the goals set in the Shanghai Declaration. On a global level, there is political will and goals have been set. Now it comes down to national governments adopting proper legislation to enable organizations and sectors of government to implement such goals. It is all about teamwork."

Wang Longde, head of the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association and deputy head of the NPC’s Education, Science, Culture and Health Committee, said that to ensure such implementation is possible, the top legislature is considering making a law clearly defining roles and responsibilities for various government departments on health promotion.

Wu Jinglei, head of the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission, said that action starts with details. He cited the example of the local government giving salt spoons free of charge to residents to help limit salt consumption.

"Such interventions are evidence-based and cost effective," he said, citing an increasing number of people suffering from hypertension in the country.

In addition, a new smoking ban in Shanghai is to take effect in March, making the municipality the second city to introduce comprehensive bans on smoking indoors and outdoors in public places.

Mao Qun’an, publicity chief of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said during the conference that a national law banning smoking in public places is expected to be announced by the end of this year.

"Due to the unique situation (State monopoly) here, we sometimes face obstacles, but in the long run, it’s in the best interests of the government and people’s health," he said.

Chan agreed, saying, "Because the determinants of health are so broad, progress in improving health is a reliable indicator of progress in implementing the overall development agenda."

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