World Cities Day: Cleaner air, speed management, tobacco restriction…, needed to improve cities- WHO 

THE World Health Organisation has launched a report that offers guidance and tools for urban leaders to tackle some of the leading causes of death in cities.

The report was published on Thursday on the occasion of the 2019 World Cities Day that is set aside by the United Nations to address challenges of urbanization and contribute to sustainable urban development around the world.

With the underlying theme of “Better City, Better Life”, WHO’s report was titled ‘The Power of Cities: Tackling Non-Communicable Diseases(NCDs) and Road Traffic Injuries’. And it was geared towards local government officials and city policy planners.

It outlined ten key interventions on how city leaders could tackle the drivers of NCDs that include tobacco use, air pollution, poor diets and lack of exercise;  and improve road safety.

By enforcing legislation to create a smoke-free area, improving pedestrian and bicycle networks, reducing air pollution and increasing seat belts and helmet use are some of the ways to tackle traffic injuries and non-infectious diseases in the cities.

The WHO’s strategies are highlighted below:

  • Monitor NCD risk factors: Conduct a population-based survey of behavioural risk factors for NCDs, such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, dietary habits and physical activity.
  • Create a smoke-free city: Protect people from second-hand smoke through the introduction, passage and enforcement of legislation that makes all indoor public places 100 per cent smoke-free.
  • Ban tobacco advertising: Comprehensive bans on all forms of direct and indirect tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • Reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages: Establish and implement policies to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, such as taxes on the production or sale of sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Reduce salt consumption: Implement key components of the evidence-based WHO SHAKE package for salt reduction
  • Create walkable, bikeable, livable streets: Improve pedestrian and bicycle networks and infrastructure across the city to ensure safe and equitable access to services, and to promote more walking and cycling for recreation and transport.
  • Cleaner air: Reduce ambient air pollution through interventions in polluting sectors, such as in transport, solid waste, and industries, and promote cleaner indoor air through access to cleaner fuels and technologies for cooking, heating and lighting.
  • Reduce drink-driving: Increase enforcement of drink-driving laws.
  • Speed management: Establish lower speed limits and strengthen existing speed-limit enforcement.
  • Increase seat-belt and helmet use: Increase enforcement of seat-belt and motorcycle helmet use.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes kill 41 million people worldwide every year, and road traffic crashes kill 1.35 million.

In Nigeria, NCDs are estimated to account for 29 per cent of deaths in the year 2016, according to the WHO’s NCD country profiles published in 2018. It indicated that of the 2,128,000 deaths in the country in 2016, 617,300 were deaths from non-communicable diseases.



    There are lots of bad incidents that have occurred on the Nigerian road.

    According to the Federal Road Safety Commission, more than 48,000 people have died in over 78,000 road accidents across the country within 2007 and 2016.

    The data obtained from the FRSC website in 2018 noted that more auto crashes happened in Abuja, the federal capital city, than any other place in Nigeria.

    The Safe Cities Index 2019 ranked Lagos as the least safe city globally where above 50 per cent of its residents reside in slums.

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