Highlights of day 4: 25 October 2014

WHO

Plenary session

Smart and innovative cities create happy and resilient cities: social, innovative and smart = happy cities

“Creating self-aware and smart healthy cities” was the title of the keynote by Maged Kamel Boulos, Professor and Chair of Digital Health, Alexander Graham Bell Centre for Digital Health. According to Professor Boulos, information technology could improve the level of health in the city; however this might have an impact on the level of citizens’ privacy protection. He also emphasized that smart cities stand a better chance of becoming healthy cities, but other factors are also very important.

Christine McLaren, journalist, researcher and co-founder, Discourse Media, Vancouver, spoke about the happy city and the transformation of our lives through urban design. To achieve happiness it is not enough to cover the basic needs of life, such as food, shelter and safety, people also have to feel a sense of mastery over their own life as well as interact with their co-citizens and neighbours. “Happy cities are social cities”, Mrs McLaren said.

Presentations were also delivered by:

  • Gayle Souter-Brown, Managing Director, Greenstone Design UK Ltd;
  • Arto Holopainen, Development Director, Kuopio Innovation Ltd; and
  • Carrie Exton, Policy Analyst, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Innovative programmes of the Hellenic Healthy Cities Network

Two innovative programmes were presented at this session:

  • City Centres for the Promotion of Health (KEP Hygeias), aiming at providing information on prevention and awareness to citizens, by Giorgos Kormas; and
  • the Portal for my-Health, providing municipalities with an interactive platform for electronic health files and communication with citizens, by Nikos Lykoudis.

City tourism and health

This master class, held by Agis D. Tsouros, WHO Regional Office for Europe, and Nicolo Gianotti, health consultant, Kluas sas, Milan, Italy, focused on how to make a Healthy City more tourist-friendly and explored issues such as tourism for health and wellness, accessibility for people with disabilities and elderly people, as well as walkability and cyclability of a city.

Round table 14: Greek cities confront the health consequences of the economic crisis: examples of resilience and innovative solutions

In Greece, the economic crisis has created excessively high levels of unemployment and poverty, with the result that many people have lost access to health care; social exclusion and mental health problems are also increasing.

This session examined innovative ways for cities to:

  • assess the needs for health and social care (City of Philothei-Psychiko);
  • mobilize volunteers to fill the gaps;
  • create new partnerships to meet basic needs;
  • create employment opportunities and access to social services.

Health professionals at the City of Aghii Anargyri presented a programme for voluntary services, while member of “Health Allies” presented a volunteer-recruitment programme, an initiative of the University of Athens.

Lykourgos Liaropoulos, Professor Emeritus, University of Athens, presented his innovative strategy to make health care services accessible to all, on the basis of two principles: national health insurance and access to hospital care. He first acknowledged that the Greek health system is not viable, then suggested that a referral by general practitioners should be made mandatory for the admission of patients to hospitals, in order to secure sustainable financing through taxes and to reform hospital care.  

Plenary session 6

The closing session of the conference was chaired by Giorgos Patoulis and Agis D. Tsouros. It started with an intervention by Graham Alabaster, Senior Adviser, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

Franklin Apfel presented to delegates the final adopted Athens Declaration for Healthy Cities: the Political Statement and the Action Commitments for Phase VI.