WHO/Europe first region in the world to develop strategy for physical activity


Forty seven Member States from the WHO European Region gathered yesterday at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, for a two-day consultation meeting on physical activity for health. The meeting is being organized by WHO Regional Office for Europe with the support of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, and is the latest step in drafting a new WHO physical activity strategy for Europe. Mr Pascal Strupler, Director General of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, chaired the first session and welcomed delegates alongside Dr Gauden Galea, Director of the WHO European Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Promoting Health through the Lifecourse.

The WHO European Region is the first Region worldwide to develop a physical activity strategy, a development that was mandated in the Vienna Declaration on Nutrition and Noncommunicable Diseases in the context of Health 2020. In the Vienna Declaration Member States called for a physical activity strategy, alongside the Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015-2020, to encourage physical activity across all population groups with a view to promoting well-being using a whole-of-society approach, and tackling the burden of obesity and noncommunicable diseases.

Over the course of the two days, Member State delegates will share their views and provide input on the draft strategy, which takes a lifecourse and whole-of-society approach. Priority areas being considered include:

  • promoting physical activity among children and adolescents for optimal development;
  • the creation of health-promoting environments conducive to physical activity, including through active transport and healthy workplaces;
  • maximizing the potential to promote physical activity in healthcare settings such as primary care; and
  • ensuring opportunities for social physical activity among older people in order to maintain functional capacity and reduce the onset of chronic diseases.
Discussions at the consultation will feed in directly to the next draft of the strategy. The strategy will ultimately be considered for adoption by Member States at the 65th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in Vilnius, Lithuania, this September.