WHO pushes for Healthy Settings approaches to safeguard people's health

News release

The World Health Organization's governing body in the Western Pacific Region today urged Member States to scale up Healthy Settings approaches that can enable people to prevent diseases and promote health.

Healthy Cities, Healthy Islands and other Healthy Settings approaches, such as Healthy Villages, Health Promoting Schools and Healthy Workplaces, have seen significant progress over the past year, says Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. These setting-based approaches take into account and try to address factors that affect people's health.

"Healthy Cities and Healthy Islands initiatives are gaining credence in many Member States as effective multisectoral approaches to address the social determinants of health, promote healthy lifestyles and prevent noncommunicable diseases," Dr Shin told the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, WHO's governing body in the Region.

Social determinants of health—conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age—influence the health status of individuals and groups, such as their risk of disease.

The Healthy Settings approach, endorsed by the Regional Committee in 2010, recognizes the interconnection between existing human settings—the environments people are exposed to—and health risks.

Emphasizing the importance of creating supporting environments for health, Dr Shin said, "Health Promoting Schools present an opportunity to address personal hygiene, healthy diets and the promotion of physical activity among schoolchildren."

WHO has worked with its collaborating centres and academic institutions to enhance technical support for Healthy Cities initiatives and to achieve healthy urbanization in key strategic areas. In addition, WHO established the Healthy Islands Recognition Programme in 2010 to revitalize the Healthy Islands initiative.

Two strategic guides of the Regional Framework for Scaling Up and Expanding Healthy Cities in the Western Pacific Region (2011–2015)and the Framework of Action for Revitalization of Healthy Islands in the Pacific have been developed to support future action.

A number of initiatives have been undertaken to establish supporting environments. Healthy Cities workplans will be developed in the capital cities of Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Mongolia this year, and tailored approaches are being supported in the Pacific.

The Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, composed of the Region's 37 countries and areas, is meeting in Hanoi this week for its annual review of WHO's work in the Region and to set future health directions.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Ms Marilu Lingad
Mobile (Viet Nam): +84 (0)1272643638
Mobile (Philippines): +63 908 891 4532;
E-mail: lingadm@wpro.who.int

Mr Timothy O'Leary
Mobile (Viet Nam): +84 (0)1252093845
Mobile (Philippines): +63 908 886 8738
E-mail: olearyt@wpro.who.int

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