In the presence of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohamed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, and senior officials of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Sharjah was formally declared the first WHO Healthy City of the region at a special ceremony at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre in Sharjah.
The emirate was selected the first Healthy City in the region by the world body earlier this year, after Sharjah had met the majority of criteria set by the WHO Healthy Cities Programme.
The special ceremony was attended by Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Sheikh Essam bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Adviser at the Ruler of Sharjah’s Office and Chairman of the Higher Committee for Sharjah’s WHO Healthy Cities Programme, and senior Sharjah officials, dignitaries and representatives of various government departments and the media.
The WHO report presented on the occasion confirmed that Sharjah, which joined the WHO Healthy Cities Programme in 2012 as part of the vision and efforts of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah to put health at the top of the development agenda of the emirate, had more than complied with the basic WHO criteria for being selected as the first Healthy City in the region under the new criteria of the world body.
The world body lauded the emirate for taking measures to improve the healthcare system and social welfare infrastructure, while embracing responsible environment policies and practices, such as waste management and sustainable development, in line with the WHO Healthy Cities Programme. It called for replicating Sharjah’s successful model globally.
A presentation was also made on the method of assessment and selection for the WHO Healthy Cities Programme, the quality of responsive healthcare and infrastructure in Sharjah and the coordination between various stakeholders in Sharjah to ensure the emirate met the strict criteria of the world health body. The WHO officials praised the emergency response and crisis management centre in the emirate, describing it as one of the best in the region and worth emulating by others.
On this occasion, His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah presented a shield to Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. Dr Alwan, for his part, presented the WHO’s Healthy City Adoption Citation to His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah.
Speaking on the occasion, Sheikh Essam bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Adviser at the Ruler of Sharjah’s Office and Chairman of the Higher Committee for Sharjah’s WHO Healthy Cities Programme, thanked His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah for his constant support and visionary leadership which had enabled Sharjah to cross yet another milestone on the path of progress and development.
He said that the WHO honour is the inevitable outcome of the emirate’s efforts guided by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, which focuses on the human being as the axis and focal point of development and progress.
“This recognition by the WHO came as a cumulative result of a number of initiatives and projects aligned with the vision of Sharjah, which aspires to become a role model for healthy cities around the globe. This achievement came after more than three years of mobilising efforts and harnessing resources,” Sheikh Essam bin Saqr Al Qasimi said.
“This is not just another title earned by Sharjah, but a real treasure that the Emirate of Sultan bestows upon its present and future generations to ensure their right to health security and a decent life. Providing the highest quality of life and sustainable development for Sharjah residents is the mission that we work to accomplish, in light of values such as community partnership, justice, efficiency and transparency,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Sharjah Healthy City Programme was assessed by the WHO and the final assessment was done in May 26-28, 2015, followed by the declaration of Sharjah as the WHO Healthy City, which marks another milestone added to the emirate’s series of outstanding achievements.
“From the Capital of Arab and Islamic Culture to the Capital of Arab Tourism to Sharjah Healthy City, the emirate has made many achievements that herald a prosperous future filled with many more successes,” said Sheikh Essam bin Saqr Al Qasimi.
He thanked His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah once again for his continuous guidance, which has led to the crowning achievement today. He also thanked Sheikha Jamila bint Mohamed Al Qasimi, Vice President of Sharjah Supreme Council for Family Affairs, Director General of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services and Director of the Sharjah Healthy City Programme Executive Office, for her strong commitment to the Sharjah Healthy City initiative and her involvement and keenness every step of the way to ensure the emirate complied with the WHO criteria to become a role model for the region.
Sheikh Essam bin Saqr Al Qasimi especially thanked the WHO for the technical support extended throughout to the emirate and all the federal government bodies, Sharjah government departments and the people of Sharjah for their cooperation.
Speaking on the occasion, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ala Alwan commended the Sharjah leadership and the Government of Sharjah for their sincere efforts and dedication to ensure the emirate embraced the best healthcare practices and measures in line with the concept of WHO Healthy Cities Programme. He said Sharjah had been one of the first in the region to join the Healthy Cities Programme and put health at the top of its priorities.
According to WHO officials, Sharjah will also be a regional training centre for other cities seeking an endorsement to join the programme.
Healthy City Criteria
According to the WHO, a Healthy City is one that continually creates and improves its physical and social environments and expands the community resources that enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential.
The WHO Healthy Cities Programme helps key stakeholders in city’s management to harness leadership, innovation and change in order to promote better health and well-being of residents, and address local public health challenges. The WHO initiative engages local governments in health development in an effort to prioritise health on the social, economic and political agenda of the community.
The WHO Healthy Cities Programme identifies a comprehensive list of criteria for Healthy Cities, including a high-quality, clean and safe environment; the ability of the city to meet basic needs of residents and offer a variety of public resources; connectedness with the city’s heritage; and an optimum level of public health and care services.