WSIS FORUM 2017 / Hack for Health
WSIS Action Lines advancing the implementation of SDGs

The future of health and well-being lies in stopping diseases before they start. In a world of growing populations, changing demographics and shrinking health budgets, preventative action will be a critical part of health care – which means more systematically engaging people in their own health care and lifestyle. This is especially true for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Cancers, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory conditions, diabetes and mental disorders together cause around 68% of all deaths every year and represent an enormous social and financial burden for individuals and the health systems that serve them.

In settings constrained by poverty, limited health infrastructure and human-resource capacity, people are far less likely to access timely, adequate or affordable diagnosis and care. As a result, these preventable diseases are often detected at a late stage, increasing the likelihood of largely preventable, premature death. In cities around the world, urbanization is accelerating this NCD epidemic by increasing the number of people exposed to common risk factors for NCDs—such as physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, tobacco use, air pollution, physical waste, and alcohol abuse—as well as by placing greater demand on health systems that are already stretched thin.

One of the most promising solutions to the issue of ‘urban unhealthiness’ is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Healthy City program, which aims at making health considerations an integral part of urban design and management. While not new, this program is of growing relevance today as the global community seeks mechanisms to fight urban health challenges, including NCDs. Indeed, mobile and digital health solutions can help increase access to information and services leading to health enhancing behaviour change. This is especially promising in increasingly connected urban centres and cities.

In 2016, recognizing the powerful link between the urban environment (SDG11) and good health (SDG3), global leaders signed The Shanghai Healthy Cities Declaration, a commitment to unlock the full potential of cities to promote health.

Through this declaration, more than 100 mayors committed to ten Healthy City action areas including the delivery of basic needs to residents (education, housing, employment and security), eliminating pollution and tackling climate change, investing in children, making the environment safe for girls and women, improving the health and quality of life of the urban poor, informal settlement dwellers, migrants and refugees, addressing multiple forms of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS or disabilities, making cities safe from infectious disease, designing cities to promote sustainable urban mobility, implementing sustainable and safe food policies and making the environment smoke free.
91 photos · 685 views