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WHO - World Health Day, April 7-11 2010

World Health Day took place the week of 7 - 11 of April 2010. In the past, World Health Day has focused on issues such as the health workforce crisis, international health security, climate change, and resiliency and safety of health facilities and workers during emergencies. This year's World Health Day focuses on urbanization and health. The campaign organized events surrounding the theme "1000 cities - 1000 lives", calling on cities to open up their streets for health actitivities.
A construction project next to a park in Makati City, Philippines. A precarious balance exists between urban development maintaining the natural environment. © 2006 Leonardo Coll, Courtesy of Photoshare

Urbanization is an important issue that needs to be addressed as nearly all the population growth over the next thirty years will be in urban areas. However, this movement is not without its health challenges. These challenges are related to water, environment, violence, and injury, noncommunicable diseases, as well as the associated risk factors. The poor suffer disproportionately from a wide range of the resulting diseases and the major determinants of health in urban settings exist beyond the health sector (these include things such as the physical infrastructure, access to services, local governement, socio-economic status, and education).

The good news is that solutions do exist to address the roots of these challenges. Urban planning to promote healthy behavior and safety requires cities to step up and create resources both accessible and age-friendly to their residents. By improving the urban living conditions, health risks can be significantly reduced. These actions require committment in order to be implemented efficiently and impactfully.

 A group of women prepare the map of their locality, plotting available health facilities on a mud floor in Ekta Nagar slum of Indore (Madhya Pradesh, India). The group consists of women of all age groups, many of them handling writing equipment such as chalk for the first time in their life. This activity by the Urban Health Resource Centre (UHRC) was a part of tapping the local community's knowledge for better understanding of the slum conditions, and utilizing the same for better program planning. © 2004 Urban Health Resource Center (UHCR), Courtesy of Photoshare

The "1000 cities - 1000 lives" campaign encompasses some of the important themes of this year's health day. The "1000 cities" portion encourages cities to open up public spaces such as parks, town halls, or streets, to health activities. The "1000 lives" part of the campaign aims to collect 1000 stories of urban health care champions who have taken action and had a signifiant impact on health in their cities.

Over 1300 cities have joined the campaign. To read some of the reports from different cities, please visit the "1000 cities - 1000 lives" campaign website here: http://www.who.int/world-health-day/2010/en/index.html. For more information on World Health Day and past campaigns, visit the WHO website at the following link: http://www.who.int/world-health-day/en/