By 2050, more than 60% of the world’s population, approximately 6 billion people, will live in cities. As a result, cities will experience the greatest public health and development challenges, placing increasing pressure on already strained health systems. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which include chronic lung disease, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, are predicted to contribute a cumulative output loss of $47 trillion in the two decades following 2011. Most of these losses will occur in cities in low- and middle- income countries – those least equipped to respond to the growing NCDs burden.
The political will to address NCDs is evident. Rapid urbanization was recognized as a contributing factor to the rising incidence and prevalence of NCDs in the 2011 UN Political Declaration on NCDs, and the Sustainable Development Goals for health (SDG3) and resilient cities (SDG11) reinforce the urgent need to invest in healthy cities. However, the translation of global policy on NCDs into national action has been hindered by a lack of coordinated technical and financial support (less than 2% of donor assistance for health is allocated to NCDs) for countries to take a health-systems approach to NCDs. Consequently, few of the 4 billion people living in cities today have access to quality NCDs services.
The World Economic Forum and the Union for International Cancer Control aim to address this challenge by convening a consultative group of public and private stakeholders to discuss the concept of a Healthy City Partnership, focused on adding value in the space of NCD- and City-focused health initiatives.