Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani on Sunday witnessed the ceremony of World Health Organization (WHO) accrediting the municipalities of Doha and Al Rayyan as healthy cities and the Education City of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development as a healthy educational city.
The ceremony was organised by the Ministry of Public Health in partnership with the Ministry of Municipality and Qatar Foundation in Msheireb region. The Healthy Cities programme aims to improve human health by promoting equity and community empowerment by integrating health in all policies and strengthening cooperation and partnership between various sectors and society.
Doha and Al Rayyan municipalities have been accredited as “Healthy Cities” and Qatar Foundation’s Education City as “Healthy Education City” by the WHO.
This is the first time that Qatar’s municipalities have been awarded the ‘Healthy City’ status and Qatar aims at getting all the eight municipalities awarded as “Healthy Cities” to provide sustainable and healthier options for the whole population.
The “Healthy Education City” award is part of the “Health-Promoting Universities” programme and the “Healthy City” programme.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean of Division of Healthier Populations Dr Maha El Adawy said there is a healthy city network in Eastern Mediterranean region, which was established in 2012.
“Since the network was launched, only 18 out of 103 have been accredited as Healthy Cities.”
El Adawy said that ‘Healthy Cities’ status comes under 9 different domains such as community participation and engagement, capacity building, environment and health aspects, besides others. According to her, under these domains there are up to 80 indicators.
El Adawy said, “We have experts in this evaluation to make sure that they have achieved at least 80 percent of the indicators. They scored much higher than this,” she said.
The accreditation is for three years because they want to make sure that it was sustainable and it was not a onetime event. However, she said that there are negotiations to make it 5 years.
The other countries which have places awarded the Healthy City recognition include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain (Manama was the first to be named), Oman, and others.
According to her, the assessment to declare a place as a Healthy City depends on the potential on the ground. “When the programme begins, it depends on the coordination between the sectors. It can take one, two or three years.”
For instance in Qatar, they started in 2018 and despite the two years under COVID-19 they have managed by now.
According to her, Qatar Foundation’s Education City is the second education institution in the region to be named as “Healthy Education City” after a university in Saudi Arabia.
The Healthy City programme in Qatar serves one of the strategic projects under the “Health in All Policies” priority within the National Health Strategy (NHS) 2018-2022.
It is an inter-sectoral collaborative approach to improve the health and equity for all populations by incorporating health considerations and implications into all decision-making processes and policies across government.
The programme focuses on four areas of work namely, establishment of robust governance structure, community engagement and empowerment, behavioural change interventions, and strengthening monitoring and evaluation.
For her part, Director of Healthy City Network in Qatar Dr Sadriya Al Kohji said, “Already we have a healthy city network which was launched at the beginning of 2020 where we have collaborations with all sectors which are contributing to health from different ministries, NGOs and some private sectors. We did self-assessment for our projects on getting the accreditation and we sat with the health city network for our future plans in order to sustain a healthy environment and being accredited.”
According to her, all the ministries are offering services that are contributing to health, for instance the Ministry of Interior provides security, Ministry of Municipality do healthy urban planning, Ministry of Environment monitors the air quality, Ministry of Education and Higher Education through educational curriculum, Ministry of Finance provides the budget for the projects , Ministry of Development and others.
“We cannot achieve this through the hospitals only. We share our plans with other sectors as well as the community.”