With 55% of the world’s population living in cities—and that figure expected to rise to 68% by 2050—urbanization has become a determinant for health in its own right. Cities are places where health can be produced or compromised, and city leaders have shown that they can lead the way for their regions and countries by creating systems that promote and protect health. This was already happening before the pandemic, and as they respond to COVID-19’s outsized impact on their people, city leaders have stepped up even more to protect health and health systems.
The Partnership for Healthy Cities has worked since 2017 to support cities to prevent noncommunicable diseases and injuries. As COVID-19 spread around the world in early 2020, the initiative expanded to respond with technical support from the Prevent Epidemics team at Vital Strategies’ Resolve to Save Lives initiative. Over the past eight months, the Partnership has provided over $1 million in financial assistance to cities in the network, enabling cities to launch critical risk communication campaigns, build or enhance systems to track outbreaks, and implement legal guidance on measures that protect health and safety. At the same time, cities are using the momentum of their COVID-19 response to embrace new opportunities to promote healthier, more sustainable systems and behaviors.
We can’t be sure how the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to unfold in the coming months, but we can and will continue to support cities as their leaders make hard decisions to protect health while maintaining economic stability and social cohesion—and focus on a future where everyone is protected by a strong public health system.
—José Luis Castro
President and CEO, Vital Strategies
We’ve curated some of our urban health-related videos, statements, reports and blogs.
What To Watch
To mark World Cities Day 2020, the Partnership for Healthy Cities—supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies—hosted a special VitalTalks event on how cities are leading us through the pandemic toward a healthier world. Speakers included Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, Michael R. Bloomberg, 108th mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, and José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies as well as mayors from the Partnership’s global network.