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Global Network of Cities Calls for Greater Financing for Urban Public Health

Statement by the Partnership for Healthy Cities, as health leaders and experts prepare for the initiative’s annual Summit this year held in Cape Town, South Africa March 5-8, 2024

February 20, 2024—Every two seconds, a person under the age of 70 dies from a noncommunicable disease (NCD), while unintentional injuries, such as those caused by road traffic crashes, claim 3.16 million lives annually. As a network of over 70 cities home to approximately 320 million urban residents, it is our ambition to see these crises abate as quickly as possible. Based on global evidence we also know that preventing these issues can be cost-effective for governments.

Since its inception in 2017, the Partnership for Healthy Cities network has advanced NCD and injury prevention worldwide. The steady commitment of local leaders and public health departments has made such improvements possible. However, what cities still often lack are sufficient resources to fully achieve their public health goals. Predictable, sustainable financing for local action is urgently needed.

By 2050, 68% of the world’s population is projected to live in cities. Mayors are accountable to their citizens for health and well-being and must be provided the authority and financing to be responsive. If mayors and municipal health departments are to save lives and prevent disease and injuries, cities must be equipped to transform their ambitions into action. That is why today we call for:

  • Greater financing for health and the diversification of funding sources to advance ambitious public health actions. Cities should be able to access and coordinate financing for urban health from a diversity of sources, across multiple sectors and between national and local governments. For instance, the World Health Organization notes that national governments can support cities by making funding directly accessible for action on local health priorities; by providing opportunities such as guaranteeing loans, offering subsidies or matching funds; or by providing technical support.

  • Recognition of urban leaders’ unique capabilities to set and implement progressive public health agendas due to their proximity to the challenges and their cities’ large populations, along with a maximization of the legal mechanisms available to local health departments

  • Greater public health collaboration and meaningful partnerships with decision-makers, civil society organizations, communities, national governments and academia.

Cities play a crucial role in promoting healthier, safer societies. The prevalence of NCDs and injuries amounts to an alarming public health crisis—but there is plenty that can be done to prevent it. There has never been a better time to invest in local action for health by giving city governments the financial resources that they so urgently need to implement proven policy measures that can save lives.


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