By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, Oct 17: Local governments must be bold in implementing strict laws to promote healthy cities.
World Health Organisation, Asia Pacific regional director Dr Shin Young-Soo, said non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases are now responsible for four out of five deaths in the Asia Pacific Region.
He reminded that city government has the power to drive the law and help promote healthier living and protect the people against NCDs. He pointed out the need for all public sectors to collaborate on ways to create a healthy environment in their cities.
“In today’s world, we face many complex issues pertaining to our city environment. NCDs contributed to many deaths among the people in this region and many of these are premature, people who died in the prime of their lives.
“Unfortunately, this is due to lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet. The solution lies on the people and the government in looking at the root cause of the problem.
“Collaboration between government agencies is needed,” Dr Shin said at the opening of the 8th Alliance for Healthy City Global Conference and General Assembly at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) today.
Citing an example, he added that when it comes to NCDs, the health sector could not solve the root of the cause such as tobacco use unless they collaborate with the city government.
“Doctors and nurses cannot enforce strict laws to protect the people against tobacco usage and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke but the city government has the power to control smoking areas, raise awareness and inculcate good habits.
“We need more people to support the healthy city movement,” he continued.
Dr Shin also raised environmental issues such as air pollution that needed to be addressed.
“In fact, more than two million people in the Asia Pacific region die due to poor air quality each year,” he said, while adding that city government has the authority to enforce laws to maintain cleanliness and environmental health levels to protect its people.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian and Healthy Cities steering committee chairwoman Scarlett Pong were present at the opening of the conference, which ends Saturday, Oct 20. — DayakDaily