The Emirate of Sharjah made a forceful presentation Tuesday at the International Healthy Cities Conference being held in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with the participation of 60 countries, on the Emirate’s successful implementation of the WHO’s Healthy Cities Program and the series of initiatives introduced as part of its efforts to enhance the overall well-being of the community.
Showcasing the Emirate’s successful experience as the region’s first WHO Healthy City, Dr Abdelaziz Al Mheiri, Director of Sharjah Health Authority and Head of Executive Committee for Expansion of Healthy Cities in Sharjah, asserted that the Emirate has emerged as a global model of a ‘Healthy City.’
“Sharjah has been progressively focusing on environmental and health issues and has launched a wide range of initiatives to enhance the well-being of the community. It is dedicated to achieving the highest levels of quality of life and sustainable development for its people through community partnership in accordance with the best practices and global standards,” said Dr Al Mheiri.
One of the first cities in the region to be declared a ‘Healthy City’ in 2015 as part of the World Health Organization’s Healthy Cities’ Program, Sharjah is representing the United Arab Emirates at the 4-day conference being held in the Northern Ireland capital under the auspices of the WHO. The Emirate is one of a group of cities in countries chosen by the WHO -- including Turkey, US, Denmark, Russia and Portugal -- to showcase the extraordinary success of their Healthy Cities Program.
The Healthy City Program is helping Sharjah address urbanisation impact on health and therefore promote healthy lifestyles through community partnership in accordance with the best practices and global standards, explained Dr Al Mheiri.
Being the first city in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to join the WHO’s Regional Healthy City Network has brought the UAE in general and Sharjah in particular recognition for their relentless efforts to improve the standard of living of their people and make a difference, he emphasised.
“Also, having a dedicated and strong political commitment and leadership has enhanced the inter-sectoral coordination and collaboration, and increased the trust and confidence of the community in the quality of services provided as well as the level of participation and engagement,” he pointed out.
“To further sustain these achievements, a Department of Healthy Cities Program has been established in Sharjah Health Authority to follow-up and expand the program, strengthen the coordination mechanisms, market and advocate for Sharjah as a model of success in implementing the HCP, as well as becoming a learning and training site for other cities,” Dr Al Mheiri said.
Sharjah registered for the WHO Healthy Cities Program in 2012. It was formally declared a ‘WHO Healthy City’ in 2015 at a formal ceremony in Sharjah attended by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah and senior officials of the world body. The WHO approved Sharjah’s candidature following an exhaustive audit of its civic institutions, healthcare network and other infrastructure and after Sharjah had been able to meet 88 per cent of the criteria of the world body.
Pointing out that while according to the WHO criteria a city must achieve at least 80% of the indicators in different domains to be recognised as a Healthy City, Sharjah has achieved 88% of the required standards and achieved 70 out of the 80 indicators.
“Among the findings of the evaluation, are the prominent leadership and commitment of the Ruler of Sharjah; well-organised sectoral coordination mechanisms; community, civil societies and the private sector engagement; and the innovative documentation and advocacy means,” he added.
The WHO Healthy Cities Program engages local governments in health development in an effort to put health at the top of the social, economic and political agenda. The Programme involves key stakeholders in city management to harness leadership, innovation and change in order to promote health and well-being, and meet local public health challenges. The International Health Cities Conference in Belfast, Ireland, is hosting successful global cities from around the world highlighting the successful healthy urban experiences of various cities and countries from around the world.