Community Participation and Empowerment in Healthy Cities Initiative: Experience from the Eastern Mediterranean Region

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    • Publication Information:
      Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences, 2020.
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    • Abstract:
      Background: The concept of Healthy City has been widely accepted globally and has been established in all six World Health Organization (WHO) regions. Community involvement, empowerment, and leadership are embedded core principles in the Healthy Cities initiative and pillars to achieve the health and health-related sustainable development goals. This article aimed to present the findings of the recent evaluation of eleven healthy cities in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR). Methods: The evaluation was based on the 80 indicators of a WHO/EMRO Healthy City. It included eleven cities (Al-Dariyah, Jalajil, Al-Jamoum, Unaiza, Riyadh Alkhubra, Sharoura, Al-Madina, Al-Taif, and Al-Mundaq in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Al-Yarmouk in Kuwait, and Manama in Bahrain). Results: The findings revealed that eleven cities were peculiar in demonstrating community involvement, empowerment, and leadership in real terms. All had proper mechanisms for their communities to voice themselves and participate in decision-making, assessing the needs, setting priorities, planning better for their cities, and monitoring. Their community engagement was based on voluntarism with a high sense of loyalty. This feature has been well demonstrated in their community organizations, such as women and youth groups, health volunteers, community-based organizations, etc. Conclusion: Although community participation and empowerment remain at the heart of the healthy cities initiative, to be more meaningful, the government-related sectors must foresee this as an integral part of long-term strategic development. Moreover, a paradigm shift towards a more integrated approach to promote health and well-being would accelerate the achievement of health-related sustainable development goals and reduce health inequities in urban settings which would require multi-stakeholder collaboration, including public, private, and community civil societies.
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      electronic resource
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