Skip to content ↓
Case Studies

Cities in Focus: A Tale of Two Powerful Public Health Strategies

With the majority of the world’s population now living in urban areas, cities have the potential to bring better health to billions of people and save trillions of dollars—with bold leadership from mayors and other urban leaders. 

Now in phase two with the announcement on December 12 of an expansion to 70 cities, the Partnership for Healthy Cities protects over 300 million people whose leaders have selected among 14 proven strategies to improve public health. Here’s a look at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and the important strides it took in phase one, and a new city, Athens, Greece:

Ouagadougou Mayor Armand Beouindé with Vital Strategies Program Officer Joseph Ngamije

Athens, Greece joins the Partnership for Healthy Cities. The city selected Overdose Prevention as its intervention.

In the 20 years between 1995 and 2015, Greece is estimated to have experienced 200-250 overdose deaths per year, with half of those taking place in Athens. In an effort to save lives, Athens Municipality is working with the Partnership for Healthy Cities on a pilot program to increase the use and wider distribution of naloxone kits. The city will partner with the Hellenic Liver Patients Association “Prometheus” and Hellenic Scientific Society for the Study of AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 

Nalaxone is a powerful opioid antidote that can slow or even prevent the deadly effects of overusing such drugs, providing users with a second chance that can have immense ripple effects across their families, communities and larger society. The distribution of naloxone kits will be paired with education, communications and training for people who inject drugs (PWIDs), their families, health professionals and other professionals who are in contact with them (e.g. law enforcement, social workers and prison personnel). The ground laid by year-old Vital Strategies’ Overdose Prevention program, which currently partners with the states of Pennsylvania and Michigan, will inform Athens’s approach.  

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso continues from Phase I and prepares to launch a dramatic campaign this month on the harms of sugary drinks. 

Overconsumption of salt and sugar is beginning to produce stunning statistics in the West African country of Burkina Faso, as processed foods become increasingly available and sugary drinks are the norm. Strokes have become a major concern nationwide, with one in six people now expected to experience one during their lifetime, and diabetes is increasingly common in both rural and urban areas, affecting nearly 2 percent of the population. In Phase I of the Partnership, the capital city of Ouagadougou devised its first-ever nutritional and food hygiene guidelines, with plans underway for implementation in public institutions including hospitals, schools and beyond. 

The global announcement of the Partnership’s phase two coincides with Ouagadougou’s launch of a powerful new communication campaign on the harms of sugary drinks. Adapted from a Partnership-supported Cape Town project, the radio, TV and billboard campaign features dramatic photographs of people who have lost their vision or limbs due to diabetes.

For more information on Vital Strategies’ work on urban health, visit the Partnership for Healthy Cities program page