About The Sydney Challenge
As part of your submission to the Fit City competition we would like your input into the Sydney Challenge. The Sydney Challenge is a global call to action to inspire corporations, governments, financial institutions, donor agencies and others to build a healthy future - for both people and planet.
To give you a flavor of what we are looking for in your comments, here are a few possible questions you might ask yourself:
- What would make the Sydney Challenge more relevant to you?
- Are there areas we should further emphasize?
- Do you think the Sydney Challenge is culturally sensitive enough?
- Do you think the Sydney Challenge is focusing at the right level of society?
As well as Fit City participants, a diverse group of stakeholders representing different cultures and age-groups will be invited to inform and shape the Challenge. The Sydney Challenge will then be formally launched at the Oxford Health Alliance's Annual Summit, to be held in Sydney, Australia, in February 2008.
Before reading the Sydney Challenge and making your comments we would suggest that you watch this short interview with Professor Tony Capon. Tony is an urban health consultant at the Australian Health Policy Institute and is also director of the 'Environmental design for prevention' workstream at the Oxford Health Alliance.
The Sydney Challenge 2008
Environmental and social determinants have contributed to an explosion in chronic diseases - heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer - which account for 60% of the world's deaths, immeasurable disability and disadvantage, and mental ill health. People with chronic diseases are more likely to get infectious diseases and less likely to recover from them.
Disease patterns are changing globally. An epidemic of chronic disease is increasingly affecting people of working age, which threatens economic stability in both developed and developing countries, and plunges families striving to escape the poverty trap back into disadvantage and despair. There is a direct link between poverty and chronic ill-health and economic and environmental sustainability. The centrality of design in all forms of habitat, cities, transport systems and the commercial and industrial sectors is recognised in the sustainability movement. Sustainability assumes, but less often examines, the role of health and the link between peoples health and the health of the environment. We seek to sharpen and elevate awareness and understanding of health among those committed to sustainability, arguing that efforts to prevent chronic diseases pay off for both health and the environment.
There is a clear way forward: prevention works. We have the evidence - we have the capacity - we have the tools - we know what to do. The four major chronic diseases can largely be prevented by tackling the three risk factors (smoking, lack of physical activity and poor diet). According to the World Health Organisation:
- If the major risk factors were eliminated:
- 80% of type 2 diabetes could be prevented
- 80% of heart disease and strokes could be prevented
- 40% of cancers could be prevented
- Interventions on the risk factors are effective both in terms of health outcomes and cost in all regions of the world.
- Chronic diseases are an under-recognised cause of poverty and are slowing the economic development of many countries.
- An additional 2% reduction in chronic disease death rates over the next 10 years would prevent 36 million premature deaths by 2015.
To achieve real change, it is necessary to bring together people and organisations from government, civil society, business and industry, academia, planners, young people, funders, activists and environmentalists in a 'coalition of the committed' to work towards creating a world in which human and natural resources come first and where social and physical environments are designed to work to eradicate chronic diseases.
The call to action
We call upon
the governments of all nations; local, national and transnational corporations and businesses; international monetary institutions and donor agencies; philanthropic groups; professional, consumer, non-government organisations and employee unions; and civil society and individuals
to take urgent action to halt the devastating global impact of chronic diseases on the physical, mental and socioeconomic health and viability of individuals and families, and its impact on global poverty and sustainable economic growth and stability in developing and industrialised nations alike, by creating healthier environments with walkable cities, active workplaces, schools and communities that encourage healthy eating and social connectivity.
This will require the collective and individual will to take action to achieve the following:
Making cities and towns healthy places
- design for physical activity and social engagement
- opportunities to move, play and connect with one another
- safe local areas to foster free movement within communities
- conservation of open spaces
- land-use mix with accessible shops, workplaces, schools and community areas
- investment in active transport/mass transport
- minimisation of carbon emissions
- local economic development, with jobs situated within local communities
- clean air, including tobacco-free public areas
Making healthy food affordable and available
- distribution and accessibility of healthy vs unhealthy food
- localisation of food production to encourage a link with local environments and sustainability
- food safety, diversity, quality, packaging and pricing
- working with food industry to reduce sugar, salt and fat intake
Making business policies and practices healthy policies and practices
- workplace design for optimal incidental and structured physical activity
- occupational health and safety around chronic disease vectors as well as injury prevention, including smoking-cessation
- active screening and risk-reduction assessment programmes
- food, pharma, sport/recreation and entertainment, and other industries and businesses, are investing and working to ensure that their products, services and marketing practices are optimally healthy and environmentally friendly.
Making economic and social policy match rhetoric, prioritising this new public health imperative
- macroeconomic policy and the need to ensure that this important public health issue is dealt with beyond the life of individual governments
- increase engagement of the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the prevention of chronic disease
- call on the international donor agencies and big philanthropic donors to wake up to the extent of the current, and future, problem, and begin to fund the prevention of chronic disease in a way that is more proportionate to its impact
- encourage governments to work on incentives (and disincentives) to encourage good business practice to prevent chronic disease.
Note: These recommendations are based on the principles of non-discrimination, human rights and poverty reduction.