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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's population will live in cities by 2050.

Our Current Focus

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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 (PHC), 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 third phase of the Partnership launched in 2021.

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 regularly convenes cities in the network to support capacity building and share strategies, and to 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, the Partnership enlisted the world’s leading experts on epidemic prevention. 

The COVID-19 response work provided 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.

In 2021, the Partnership launched the Policy Accelerator to support an initial cohort of 15 cities in the network to create and adopt strong public health policies and to institutionalize development processes for future policy.

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

Selected City Activities

Buenos Aires, Argentina: The city hired formerly unhoused people to conduct COVID-19 vaccine outreach to unhoused and people at risk of becoming unhoused through its Partnership-supported “Butterfly Effect” project, ultimately vaccinating thousands and presenting research findings for improving public health access for this population. 

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 wear masks, wash their hands and watch their distance while using public transportation. The campaign features a mother and son traveling by bus while modeling correct mask usage, handling sneezing in public and more.

Lusaka, Zambia: With more than 70% of school-age children in Zambia going to and from school by foot daily, road crashes are a major concern. With support from the Partnership, the capital city improved safety in the areas surrounding seven schools by making infrastructure upgrades, dropping speed limits and adding informative signage. 

Lima, Peru: A 2021 ordinance, developed with Partnership support, restricts the availability and marketing of unhealthy foods in and around schools and mandates calorie displays and salt-reduction measures in restaurants. The new policy marks a major milestone in the city’s four-year participation in the Partnership for Healthy Cities. 

Bandung, Indonesia: A 2021 regulation designated seven new types of smoke-free areas, including places of worship, children’s playgrounds, health facilities, schools, public transportation and workplaces. Moving forward, smoke-free enforcement will be tightened and citizens can report violations through a mobile app developed by the city. 

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

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