World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7 April.Every year World Health Organization (WHO) sponsors World Health Day. WHO World Health Day 2010 Theme is the part of a global movement to make cities healthier. World Health Day 2010 will focus on urbanization and health With the campaign 1000 cities, 1000 lives, events will be organized worldwide during the week of 7 – 11 April 2010.
Health outcomes are determined by environmental, social, and physical infrastructure conditions and factors that can be positively influenced. Underlying drivers –also referred to as social determinants – converge in urban settings which strongly influence health status and other outcomes. These determinants include water and sanitation, quality of air, living and working conditions, access to services and resources, among others. Communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, mental disorders, and deaths due to violence and road traffic injuries are all driven by these underlying social determinants.
Unplanned urbanization is often accompanied by continued growth of slums and shantytowns. One in three urban dwellers live in slums, or a total of 1 billion people worldwide. If these underlying factors are not addressed, this could result in spiraling health costs, as well as potential security issues for underserved populations in all cities.
Urban planning can promote healthy behaviors and safety through investment in active transport, designing areas to promote physical activity and passing regulatory controls on tobacco and food safety. Improving urban living conditions in the areas of housing, water and sanitation will go a long way to mitigating health risks. Building inclusive cities that are accessible and age-friendly will benefit all urban residents. Such actions do not necessarily require additional funding, but commitment to redirect resources to priority interventions, thereby achieving greater efficiency.
WHO supported the Human Settlement Management Institute of HUDCO in compiling a ‘Healthy Cities Manual’, a comprehensive document detailing cause and effect of each step towards urban development. The manual is a handy tool for those involved in urban management and well structured to understand the impact on health and provide for sustainable options of balancing negative effects.
WHO worked with the Ministries of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation and Health and Family Welfare in developing a healthy city plan for Mirzapur in the Northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Using the extensive GIS information and assessing the conditions and needs, the local government and the community worked together on the healthy city plan. A Guide Atlas, the first of its kind, was compiled for planning a healthy city. The Atlas is a unique contribution of a multi-level planning process which can be adopted globally for planning healthy cities.
The health of three billion people who live in cities around the world is the focus on World Health Day 2010. The theme for the observance “Urbanization and Health,” calls for action for the opening of more public spaces such as parks, town hall meetings, clean-up campaigns, and closing some city streets to motorized vehicles.