Sharjah, UAE-The Executive Committee for Expansion of Healthy Cities in Sharjah on Thursday wrapped up a two-day workshop it had launched in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) with the aim of honing the capabilities and skills required by coordinators and working teams to meet the criteria for the expansion of Healthy Cities.
Held at Sheraton Sharjah Hotel, the workshop stressed the importance of the continuous support extended by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to the health sector, placing it as a priority in the Emirate’s agenda. This has resulted in building an integrated health environment, thereby contributing to the crowning of Sharjah as the region’s first healthy city and triggering work towards expanding the scope of Healthy Cities.
The workshop stressed the value of the Expansion of Healthy Cities in Sharjah. It updated information on the programme and outlined achievements of the Emirate in this regard. It also defined future steps to expand Healthy Cities in Sharjah and timeline for the re-accreditation of Sharjah as a Healthy City.
Moreover, the workshop discussed training programmes to be held within the framework of the Expansion of Healthy Cities programme and the WHO role in this respect.
HE Dr Abdulaziz Al Muhairi, Director of Sharjah Health Authority, Chairman of the Executive Committee for Expansion of Healthy Cities in Sharjah, said: "The vision of the programme is to make Sharjah a global model for Healthy Cities, founded upon a set of values, including community partnership, sustainable development, justice, efficiency, quality and transparency.”
He added that the programme’s message is to achieve the highest standards of quality of life and sustainable development for Sharjah residents through community partnership, in accordance with international best practices.
According to Dr. Al Muhairi, the Expansion of Healthy Cities has established Sharjah's position as the first Emirate in the country to implement the programme and helped enhance cooperation and coordination between Sharjah’s government and other institutions.
It has contributed to the development of plans to address any gaps in community health services. It has also strengthened society’s confidence in the quality of services offered by the Emirate in various areas related to public health, added Dr Al Muhairi.
He indicated that Sharjah’s outstanding initiatives, integrated health infrastructure and crowning as the first healthy city in the region has decreased the time required to complete the procedures to expand the scope of healthy cities from two-three years to only one, based on the WHO assessment.
Dr Samar Al Faki, Programme Specialist at WHO, highlighted the importance of the Healthy Cities programme and its relationship to social determinants and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. She noted that the programme is a commitment to innovation and inter-sectoral cooperation to address the social determinants of health and incorporate health into all policies.
According to Dr Al Faki, the Healthy Cities approach brings human development and health equity to the fore and stimulates participation under one leadership. Currently, thousands of cities around the world are part of the Healthy Cities network.
The WHO praised Sharjah’s various cadres for having the necessary expertise and skills to support the expansion of Healthy Cities within and outside the UAE.
The workshop reviewed the Healthy Cities approach, which involves efforts to increase access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and sound waste management and disposal, as well as efforts to reduce pollution and raise awareness on hygiene practices.
According to the WHO, the Healthy Cities Programme works to improve residential environment, reduce overcrowding and develop slums as priorities for public health. It promotes better urban planning to increase access to safe transportation and green spaces.
Indicators of implementation of the programme include building awareness and capacity for the reduction of road accidents and emergency preparedness, as well as planning response systems that can reduce injuries and deaths.
Healthy Cities pays particular attention to extreme weather events that may have a major impact on health due to disruption of agriculture and food supplies, leading to disease outbreaks. Hence, implementation of the programme is designed to improve air quality and promote physical activity.