Daily Recap

17 November 2010

On the final day of the Global Forum, the focus once again was on political commitment and leadership. The day began with a special address from an inspiring leader, Governor Fashola from Lagos State in Nigeria who began with a warning about the impact of cities on life in the modern world. As well as health care, the Governor talked about the environmental challenges facing Lagos – and the efforts he’s made to turn the city greener and clean up the streets. And he underlined that the progress he’s made is a challenge of political will. The presentation provoked a spirited debate amongst delegates on the challenges leaders are facing. Then came the formal closing of the conference, as a group of mayors took the stage to present the three key principles of the Kobe Call to Action: 1) uncover and address urban health inequities to build healthier cities; 2) show leadership by including health in all urban policies through intersectoral action; 3) use effective mechanisms for community participation in urban policy and planning.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan addressed the crowd and reinforced the need for governments at all levels to take the lead: “Good urban health governance helps ensure that opportunities and advantages are more evenly distributed and that access to health care is more evenly distributed”.

Finally, the Day closed with the global launch of the joint WHO/UN-HABITAT report, Hidden Cities: unmasking and overcoming health inequities in urban settings. To download the report and to see pictures and personal stories from cities around the world, please go to www.hiddencities.org.

After a fruitful three days of inspiration for assembled leaders, the challenge for the delegates now is what action they will take to turn their cities into healthy cities.

16 November 2010

Today's theme is leadership. What can leaders do to change policies and improve health for their residents? The day started with views from the Mayor of Celje, Bojan Srot, who discussed the work he's done to turn an ancient city into a modern attraction. Next came Shigefumi Matsuzawa, Governor of Kanagawa, a leader in the fight against smoking in Japan. He told delegates about the long struggle to ban smoking in public places in his prefecture and improve the health of people living there. The subject of smoking produced a spirited discussion on how to enforce the ban in various cities around the world.

15 November 2010

National and municipal leaders from over 90 countries gathered in Kobe Japan today to develop an action plan for one of the most pressing health issues of the 21st century – urbanization and its impact on the well being of over half the world’s population.

Tatsuo Yada, Mayor of Kobe, opened the forum and expressed his city's readiness to cooperate with other cities around the world. Mitsunori Okamoto, Parliament Secretary from the Ministry of Health in Japan, endorsed the forum’s focus to work beyond the health sector and embrace other sectors and stakeholders to improve health in cities. Shin Young-Soo, Regional Director for the World Health Organization in the Western Pacific shared his views on the appalling living conditions faced by nearly one billion people living in slums and the link between unplanned urbanization and subsequent health problems.

The first keynote speaker of the day, Bience Gawanas, from the African Union Commission for Social Affairs, set the scene by challenging fellow delegates: “When people come to the city, are they valued?”

Shen Xiaoming, the Vice Mayor of Shanghai was the second keynote speaker of the day, outlining the city’s progressive plans for public health and presenting a futuristic and inspiring film about Shanghai’s hi-tech vision of health services in 2015.

Throughout the day, group discussions were held on topics ranging from the threat of infectious and noncommunicable diseases, to the effects of climate change, to the solutions around “cleaner and greener” urban services, disaster risk planning, and improving health in slums. For more, see the video clips of discussions and interviews with delegates captured on Day 1.