Global Health Conferences Highlight Innovation, Urban Environments
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The Ninth Global Conference on Health Promotion, organized by WHO and China's National Health and Family Planning Commission resulted in the Shanghai Declaration on Promoting Health in the 2030 Agenda, and the Shanghai Consensus on Healthy Cities.

In Qatar, the World Innovation Summit on Health presented research and policy briefings on autism, genomics in the Gulf region and Islamic ethics, affordable cancer care, and dementia.

30 November 2016: Global health conferences in China and Qatar resulted in commitments to promote public health and urban environments, and showcased cutting-edge research in several health-related areas. The China conference resulted in two outcome documents, including the Shanghai Declaration on Promoting Health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China jointly organized the Ninth Global Conference on Health Promotion, from 21-24 November 2016, in Shanghai, China. More than 1,000 people took part in the Conference, including the Prime Minister of China, over 40 ministers, and mayors of cities around the world. The meeting adopted two outcomes: the Shanghai Declaration on the 2030 Agenda and the Shanghai Healthy Cities Mayors’ Consensus.

The Shanghai Declaration urges city leaders to address the “toxic combination” of rapid rural-to-urban migration, unemployment, pollution and other factors.

The Shanghai Declaration recognizes that health and wellbeing are essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Declaration recognizes the value of good governance in promoting health, and calls on business leaders to ensure that profit does not stand above people’s health. It acknowledges cities and communities as critical settings for health, and urges city leaders to address the “toxic combination” of rapid rural-to-urban migration, unemployment, pollution and other factors. It also recognizes the importance of health literacy, and states that consumer environments must support healthy choices through pricing policies, transparent information and clear labeling.

The meeting also adopted the Shanghai Healthy Cities Mayors’ Consensus, in which over 100 mayors commit to advancing health through better management of urban environments, including through social protection, fair access to public services, and working towards universal health coverage. Welcoming these commitments, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan highlighted the effectiveness of legislative and fiscal measures in improving health outcomes, citing examples such as tobacco control, taxing of sugary drinks, pollution control and public safety, enabling people to bike home safely and walk to school or work without fear of violence.

In a video message to the conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged participants to promote health through all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “with innovation and commitment.” Among other conditions, he highlighted the need for universal health coverage to ensure that people who fall ill can access the services they need without being plunged into poverty.

The Shanghai conference marked 30 years since the first global conference on health promotion, in Ottawa, Canada. The Ottawa conference recognized that health objectives are not the responsibility of health care providers alone, but require cooperation across sectors.

A few days after the Shanghai conference, the World Innovation Summit on Health (WISH) 2016 opened in Doha, Qatar, bringing together delegates from more than 100 countries, including almost 40 ministerial-level representatives. WISH 2016, held from 29-30 November, presented research and policy briefings, and promoted collaboration between health researchers and policy makers. Panel discussions took place on: accountable care; autism; behavioral insights; cardiovascular disease; healthy populations; investing in health; precision medicine; health professional medicine; and genomics in the Gulf Region and Islamic ethics.

Policy briefings addressed: using evidence-based policy solutions to address health challenges; learning from international collaboration; affordable cancer care; and dementia. On the second and final day, delegates discussed infectious diseases, and the global diffusion of health care innovation, in two plenary sessions.

The WISH conferences were initiated by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. [WHO Press Release on Shanghai Conference] [Shanghai Declaration on Promoting Health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development] [Shanghai Consensus on Healthy Cities 2016] [UN Secretary-General’s Message to Shanghai Conference] [WISH 2016 Website] [WISH 2016 Programme]

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