The World Health Organization (WHO) has accredited the Healthy Cities Program in Saudi Arabia as a cooperating center with the organization.
The adoption of the Healthy Cities Program as a cooperating center with the World Health Organization is one of the community health initiatives that have received global demand from decision-makers to implement it in many countries as an integrated model capable of contributing to promoting the health of societies, reducing the economic burden of health care, and achieving sustainable development goals.
The Kingdom has been able to excel regionally and globally in the past four years by obtaining the accreditation of theWHO for nine healthy cities in various regions, namely Ad-Diriyah, Medina, Taif, Unaizah, and Jalajel. Al-Mandaq Al-Jumum, Riyadh Al-Khubra, and Sharurah, which is the highest among the countries of the region, in addition to the accreditation of Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University, the first health-promoting university in the region, which helped achieve this achievement.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has adopted the implementation of the Healthy Cities Program of the World Health Organization. Thus, the country has registered 30 cities across multiple stages. Tremendous efforts have been made, and so far five cities have been awarded WHO certifications which have led to increased competition among all cities in the program to achieve the same goal which is a healthy community.
Most of the “Healthy Cities” in Saudi Arabia are provided with infrastructure standards through government services. In 2016, the program flourished with the introduction of Saudi Vision 2030. The program aligns seamlessly with the vision through various perspectives, including the “quality of life” initiative and its desired goals, increased life span, community participation and the diversity of green landscapes. It is also in line with the initiative to reduce unemployment rates. The government aims to include three Saudi cities among the top 100 liveable cities in the world.
Community participation has significantly increased in local decision-making processes. Community members, NGOs and the private sector participate in the promotion of “Healthy Cities” to play a role in making societal decisions to make the best use of the cities’ resources.
The Healthy Cities Program actively participates in international conferences and forums to represent the Kingdom as a model for success in the Middle East region of the World Health Organization and examples of its participation in Sharjah, Kuwait, Oman and Belfast. The program has also conducted several fruitful citywide initiatives. These initiatives targeted all segments of society and served educational, environmental, health and economic purposes.
The program aims to improve public health to facilitate and enhance the implementation of campaigns, events and other programs related to health in cities. Campaigns such as collaboration with the Tobacco Control Program have led to tobacco-free cities. In addition, the criteria of the Healthy Cities Program are closely aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This program has been accorded high priority on the national agenda.
The concept of a healthy city means that the city or village environment is at the level that serves and enhances health through coordination and joint action between all environment and health-associated sectors, in addition to concerted efforts of all community members for serving their city.
The health city program aims to promote population health and contribute to upgrading the level of service and health and environmental conditions in cities. This objective can be achieved through different aspects including raising awareness about the health and environmental issues in the context of environmental development efforts, attracting community support and participation in solving problems, preparing and implementing health and environmental activities and projects and enhancing provinces and directorates’ capabilities to address health and environmental problems in cities through cooperation among all community members.
Health MinisterFahad Al-Jalajel received a congratulatory letter from the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, for the adoption of the Healthy Cities Program in Saudi Arabia as a cooperating center with the organization, and for the Kingdom’s success in eliminating trachoma.
The World Health Organization indicated that trachoma is an infectious disease that causes blindness worldwide, and is transmitted by contact with a pus-producing lesion, wound or ulcer in the eyes and nose of infected people, especially young children, and is responsible for blindness and visual impairment in about 1.9 million people around the world.
This achievement comes from the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Crown Prince, and the interest of the Minister of Health to keep pace with the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, after achieving the goal of eliminating trachoma in the Kingdom, after completing all the standards and requirements set by the World Health Organization, as the Ministry seeks to eradicate epidemics, to achieve its strategies to reach a healthy society.
The Kingdom had launched a project that is free of trachoma disease since 2019, where the project included all health facilities and relevant authorities in all regions and governorates of the Kingdom, and all research related to the history of trachoma disease in the Kingdom has been studied for more than forty years.