Skip to content ↓
Press Room

“Investing in healthy cities now will produce invaluable benefits by improving the lives of billions of people worldwide.”

Statement from José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer at Vital Strategies, on Oct. 31, 2021, World Cities Day:

“Cities have long served as leaders at the forefront of public health, a distinction that holds even greater importance as urban areas stand to be home to 68% of the world’s population by 2050.

“COVID-19 has brought urban leadership into greater focus, requiring city leaders to respond to the pandemic while also mitigating uneven social and economic impacts to help residents live healthier, longer lives. At the same time, cities have continued to address some of the world’s biggest killers, including noncommunicable diseases—such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer—and injuries. NCDs and injuries cause an estimated 80% of deaths around the world each year, and NCDs place people at a higher risk of severe infection from COVID-19.

“The Partnership for Healthy Cities—supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies—supports 70 cities to make rapid progress against NCDs and injuries, and to respond to COVID-19.

“Bandung, Indonesia, for example, unveiled a new smoke-free law this year that expanded smoking bans in public spaces and will protect the health of countless city residents. In Latin America, four Partnership cities added 62 kilometers of new bike lanes during the pandemic alone—to not only maintain safe and active travel that adhered to public health regulations, but also to achieve long-term goals for safe, sustainable transport and urban mobility. In Barcelona, Spain, a new evaluation shows that superblocks—a leading urban design initiative aimed at reducing traffic and air and noise pollution—have contributed to improved air quality and had a positive impact on the social and environmental determinants of health.

“More cities are joining the Partnership and benefiting from its global network. With a renewed commitment from Bloomberg Philanthropies, six new cities joined the Partnership for Healthy Cities this year: Córdoba, Argentina; Cairo, Egypt; Dublin, Ireland; Warsaw, Poland; Bucharest, Romania; and Greater Manchester, United Kingdom. The Policy Accelerator, a new initiative from the Partnership, will further support a cohort of 15 cities in the network to create and adopt strong public health policies, and to institutionalize policy development processes for future work.

“Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the heavy toll of NCDs and injuries remain global challenges, Vital Strategies celebrates the remarkable progress made by cities in the Partnership. The global network is leading the way on sustainable, systemic changes to improve the health and safety of urban residents around the world.

“On World Cities Day, we urge cities everywhere to join the fight to help eliminate the burden of noncommunicable diseases and injuries. Investing in healthy cities now will produce invaluable benefits by improving the lives of billions of people worldwide.”

About the Partnership for Healthy Cities:

The Partnership for Healthy Cities is a prestigious global network of cities committed to saving lives by preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies, the initiative enables cities around the world to deliver a high-impact policy or programmatic intervention to reduce risk factors in their communities.

For more information on the Partnership for Healthy Cities, please visit:

Media Contacts

Nicole Bohrer-Kaplan:
Sally Chew: