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Belfast a World Health Organisation Healthy City – 25th Anniversary Lectures:’New Policies for a New Era’

Date: 26/10/2012

Press Release

2020: Health As a Resource and Asset

Health should be seen as a major resource and asset and not as a cost and liability – that was the message this morning at the first of a series of lectures under the theme ‘New Policies for a New Era’ organised by Belfast Healthy Cities a leading member of the World Health Organization European Healthy Cities Network.  Among the five speakers at the lecture, held in Titanic Belfast, was Dr Erio Ziglio, Head of the World Health Organization’s European Office for Investment for Health.

Dr Ziglio provided a detailed outline on the World Health Organization’s ‘Health 2020’ strategy which was agreed and signed by 53 member states of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe. The document includes evidence-based proposals which will see improved health outcomes by 2020. Speaking at the event he said:

“Health is essential for economic growth and social development and it is vital across Europe, including here inNorthern Ireland, that we promote health as a resource and asset, instead of viewing it purely on the basis of costs and liability.

“High standards of health are of vital concern for the life of every person, family and community across our continent. Poor health wastes potential, causes despair, and as smoking, obesity and other factors demonstrate, is a massive drain on economic resources.

Outlining how all of us, policy makers, public representatives, groups and individuals can make this a reality he said: “People must control the means by which they promote and protect their health and that of their communities. Health policy and its delivery must work across the spectrum with education, social inclusion and cohesion, gender equality, poverty reduction and community resilience policy. That way we can build a health system fit for the 21st century.”

Other speakers at the first lecture included Dr Naresh Chada (DHSSPS), Professor Mike Kelly (NICE), Dr Anna Ritsatakis (WHO expert advisor on health equity) and Knut-Johan Rognlien (Head of Public Health Unit, Ostfold County, Norway).

Joan Devlin, Chief Executive of Belfast Healthy Cities said: “Today’s lecture is the first in a series of lectures this year and next year celebrating 25 years of Belfast becoming a designated WHO Healthy City. The lecture outlined a number of concrete examples from across Europe, which could be adapted here. While health outcomes in some fields have improved in some areas during that period, in others significant challenges remain.

“Today’s lecture gives us an insight into the importance of strong leadership and intersectoral governance for health across government departments and agencies if we are to seriously tackle health inequalities which exist in our society,” she added.


The lecture series is supported by Public Health Agency.

Further lectures take place on:

Thursday 8 November 2012: Creating Resilient Communities and Supportive Environments

Wednesday 12 December 2012: Investing in Children and Young People pays Dividends

Tuesday 15 January 2013: Planning and Regeneration, Sustainable and Healthy

Thursday 14 February 2013: A Life Course Approach: Healthy and Active Ageing

Tuesday 26 March 2013: Leadership and Governance for Health

Further information is available here

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