Host city of Union World Conference launches plan to tackle non-communicable diseases

Guadalajara, host city of the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health, has announced a new scheme to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs] – to make its streets ‘more walkable, bikeable and liveable’. The project is supported by the Partnership for Healthy Cities – a network of urban centres around the world committed to improving the lives of citizens through evidence-based public health interventions. Healthy Cities is a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative, run in partnership with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies (an affiliate of The Union).

The project was launched on 9 October at the Palacio Municipal by Guadalajara’s Chief of Staff, Hugo Luna, alongside José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union and CEO of Vital Strategies; Adam Karpati, Senior Vice President of Vital Strategies, and Fernando Petersen, director of the city’s health system. Luna announced new infrastructure to promote daily physical activity, including cycle routes and safe paths for walking.

Lack of regular exercise is a key risk factor for NCDs, which include heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. NCDs kill 40 million people each year.

Guadalajara joined the Partnership for Healthy Cities last year – a project that provides technical support and funding for cities to implement one of ten policies proven to reduce risk factors for NCDs. This Bloomberg Philanthropies project was launched in 2016. To date 50 cities have joined the partnership, which seeks to galvanise mayors and local leaders into improving the health of their citizens. With half the world’s population now living in urban environments, city leaders are well-placed to deliver high impact measures to improve the health of their communities.

Michael R. Bloomberg was named WHO’s Global Ambassador for NCDs last year, building on a decade of innovative work in tobacco control and injury prevention. The Union is a key partner in the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use grants programme. Banning smoking in public places, and banning advertising of tobacco products are two of the ten evidence-based interventions the Partnership for Healthy Cities supports. Others include taxes on sugary drinks, increased enforcement of drink driving laws and measures to reduce salt intake.