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Partnership for Healthy Cities

With the majority of the world’s population now living in urban settings, cities are uniquely positioned to transform the fight against NCDs and injuries by implementing policies to significantly reduce exposure to risk factors. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the transformative role of public health leadership by cities.

Why It Matters

  • 80% of deaths worldwide are caused by noncommunicable diseases and injuries. These are largely preventable.
  • 68% of the world will live in cities by 2050.

Our Current Focus

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries kill almost 46 million people globally each year. They are responsible for 80% of global deaths. 

With most of the global population now living in urban settings, cities and their leaders play a critical role in developing, implementing and enforcing policies to create healthy environments for healthier populations. 

The Partnership for Healthy Cities, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vital Strategies, is a global network of 70 cities whose mayors have committed to prevent NCDs—including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and chronic lung disease—and injuries through proven interventions. The second phase of the Partnership launched in 2019.

As implementing partner in the initiative, Vital Strategies provides in-kind technical assistance, supports communication and public relations efforts and disburses grants to participating cities. PHC workshops and webinars convene cities in the network to support capacity building, share strategies and foster networking opportunities.

In March 2020, the Partnership expanded its scope to provide immediate assistance in the urban response to COVID-19. By collaborating with WHO and Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, the Partnership enlisted the world’s leading experts on epidemic prevention. The COVID-19 response work focuses on technical and financial assistance and practical resources geared toward challenges every city is facing, ranging from maintaining city services to managing risk communications and implementing legal guidance on measures that protect health and safety.

Quito, Ecuador launches its Partnership for Healthy Cities project. (Photo: Juan Carlos Bayas)

Selected City Activities

Athens, Greece: COVID-19 and many of the steps taken to stop the pandemic have worsened the precarious situation of people who inject drugs and are experiencing homelessness. As part of the pandemic response, the city is making sure over 3,500 vulnerable Athenians have the supplies needed to minimize COVID-19 transmission—gloves, masks and antiseptics—along with food and educational materials.

Ho Chi Minh City: When COVID-19 restrictions on economic activity began easing in the city, a new video series produced with Partnership support launched in public places and on television encouraging residents to use public transportation safely. The campaign features a mother and son traveling by bus while modeling correct mask usage, handling sneezing in public, and more.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Together with urban mobility experts at the World Resources Institute (WRI), the city examined cycling, transport and crash injury data, and developed plans for how to create safer spaces for cyclists. The result is the city’s new Bicycle Action Plan, which will offer ways to link current bike routes to waterfront paths to improve both commuting and recreational cycling. 

Quito, Ecuador: With Partnership support, Quito has provided 13,000 children with access to healthier foods at six schools across the city. In addition to improving the quality of foods sold at the canteens, the city prohibits marketing of junk food in or near these institutions. These successes are helping prompt a regional conversation about implementing similar school food strategies in other Latin American cities. 

Kampala, Uganda: Despite a strong national smoke-free law in place in Uganda, enforcement in the capital has been weak, and tobacco use has remained high. Through an enforcement drive, increased police fines and strong messages about the harms of smoking, Kampala is making public places healthier and helping its citizens give up a deadly habit. 

Bandung, Indonesia: A 2017 decree declared many types of public venues in Bandung to be smoke-free. Since then, the city has increased regular inspections and placed new signage in smoke-free areas, including in government buildings, hotels, restaurants and schools. Social media campaigns promoted the city’s smoke-free efforts, with public events including an outdoor World No Tobacco Day art fair. 

Each of the Partnership’s 70 cities has selected one of these 14 interventions to prevent NCDs and injuries:

1. Create a smoke-free city

Introduce, pass and enforce legislation and regulations to make all indoor public places, workplaces and public transport 100% smoke-free

2. Ban tobacco advertising

Introduce, pass and enforce legislation and regulations establishing comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, including a ban on display at the point-of-sale

3. Raise tobacco taxes or levies/fees

• Increase excise taxes and prices on tobacco products; or
• Increase subnational tobacco tax revenue

4. Tax sugary drinks

Adopt, implement and enforce effective taxation of sugary beverages

5. Set nutrition standards for foods served and sold in public institutions

Adopt, implement and enforce nutrition standards in public settings (e.g. schools, hospitals, childcare sites)

6. Regulate food and drink marketing

Adopt, implement and enforce restrictions on marketing sugary drinks and/or unhealthy foods

7. Create healthier restaurant environments

Adopt, implement and enforce foodservice policies (e.g. calorie labelling, sodium labelling, trans fat ban)

8. Reduce speeding

• Enhance and/or enforce speed limits; or
• Implement road designs that reduce speed and protect pedestrians

9. Increase motorcycle helmet us

Enhance and/or enforce laws mandating compulsory use of helmets while riding two-wheelers

10. Reduce drink driving

Enhance and/or enforce drink-driving traffic laws

11. Increase seat-belt use

Enhance and/or enforce laws mandating compulsory seat- belt use

12. Promote active mobility

• Increase cycling via bike share programs and/or street design; or
• Implement Safe Routes to Schools

13. Prevent opioid-associated overdose deaths

• Establish a naloxone distribution program; or
• Establish community-based harm reduction services (e.g., syringe exchange, drop-in center)

14. Enhance public health data and monitoring systems

• Conduct a population-based survey of risk factors for NCDs/injuries; or
• Conduct targeted air monitoring to identify important emissions sources and their impact on ambient air quality and health

Our Global Network of Cities

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