According to the World Health Organization, more than 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by the year 2050, growing by more than 60 million every year. The reality is that unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and otherwise unhealthy lifestyles are often exacerbated by urban living. Rapid urbanization also presents unprecedented risk in the growth of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, infectious diseases, and environmental hazards. What steps can be taken to mitigate the impact of urbanization on health outcomes in cities around the world, while ensuring accessibility to quality healthcare for all citizens?
The time is now to plan for better working and living conditions within our cities and to call on our local and regional government health leaders, professionals, communities, and citizens to take action using significant technology advancements that can enable healthier outcomes for all. Cities that proactively seek ways to analyze the complex interaction of health determinants and data to target intervention, localize care into the communities, and encourage citizens to become accountable for their own health and wellness with efficient technology infrastructure create the best path for a healthy, productive, and competitive society in the long run.
This week in Brussels, Microsoft announced a Coalition of Partners for Healthier Cities to work with local and regional health authorities and municipalities across Europe to identify, prioritize, and scale the technology solutions with the greatest impact toward achieving these goals. The creation of the Coalition and the identification of partner-led solutions for healthier cities gives municipalities, local, and regional health authorities a couple of opportunities for immediate action:
• Firstly, we urgently need a mind-shift away from slashing budgets to think about investment in technology as a driver for efficiency in health, which will ultimately cut costs while ensuring quality healthcare is delivered.
• Secondly, we invite municipalities to partner with the Coalition, work collaboratively, assess the relevance of these solutions, and deploy best practices that make a real impact to their citizens.
Follow us over the coming months as Elena Bonfiglioli, Per Bendix Olsen and I, as part of the Microsoft Health team, showcase a number of remarkable stories on how cities all over the world are ensuring healthier cities both now and in the future.