Cities play a key role in supporting better health when over half of the global population now lives in those contexts, and by 2050 the proportion will increase to almost 70 percent, the WHO’s authorities deemed.
The climate and Covid-19 crises exacerbated existing social injustices and vulnerabilities in communities and healthcare systems, especially in cities, they noted.
WHO’s officials warned that inadequate housing, inadequate transportation, sanitation, poor waste management and air quality that does not meet established guidelines remain among the top problems in many urban settings.
Lack of space for walking, cycling and safe living also makes them epicenters of non-communicable diseases or epidemics and drivers of climate change, WHO’s authorities highlighted.
On the WHO’s press release, whose title urges countries to build resilient and healthy cities, the entity’s experts acknowledged the reaction of some in a rapid and innovative way to address the challenges posed by Covid-19.
They kept residents safe from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, including by adapting the way people travel, defending food security, and protecting older adults and marginalized populations.
During the pandemic, WHO’s specialists described, many cities strengthened existing networks and partnerships with communities to better respond to people’s needs, along with multisectoral collaboration and strong leadership from the health sector.
The Agency’s leaders underscored their intention to work to ensure such progress continues in the interest of cities prepared to deal with future health emergencies.
They stressed the need for strong approaches to public transportation, access to green and blue spaces, and where people could easily walk.
WHO’s authorities noted that urban farmers’ markets, which connect consumers with local producers of fresh fruits and vegetables, prevent disease and promote health.
They also improve social welfare as well as address climate change, environmental degradation while helping residents cope with the effects of public health measures, including Covid-19 closures.
WHO’s experts finally called on governments to prioritize preparedness at the highest level for health emergencies in urban settings.