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The Significance of Healthy Cities

The concept of healthy cities was first proposed by the WHO, which defined health in its Global Strategy for Health for All by the Year 2000 as:…not a single specific objective, but a process that leads people towards progress and development. A healthy individual is able to work and participate in community activities. A healthy system is a system in which all households, educational institutions, work places, public places, communities and relevant health organizations have attained a healthy status. In a healthy system, individuals and households are actively involved with solving their own health problems.Some characteristics of health were specified in the Lisbon meeting in 1986:

  • Health involves social affairs, not just medical affairs. 
  • Health is the responsibility of all urban sectors. 
  • Health should be overseen by experts in specialized fields of natural science, social studies, aesthetics, and environmental studies. 
  • Health is the manifestation of community participation and cooperation of public and private sectors.
    The characteristics above show autonomy and cooperation are the key principles in the concept of health. Autonomy refers to people's power over affairs affecting their lives, whereas cooperation suggests health is not only the responsibility of public sectors, but also the responsibility of private organizations as well as community members. In addition, according to Duhl (1995), the significance of a Healthy City can vary between the three levels: individual, group and community, and global. 
  • At the individual level: Health refers to citizens' rights to growth, development, peace, freedom from fear, and power over affairs affecting their lives. 
  • At the group and community level: Health means individuals are free from exploitation, enjoy meaningful work, develop trust and cooperate with others when working in a group.
  • At the global level: The focus is on issues associated with a fair distribution of global resources, awareness of ecological limits and so on.

2013/12/02
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