On December 18, the School of Public Health (School), Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of The University of Hong Kong (HKU), hosted a roundtable discussion on “Healthy Cities in a Healthy World: Challenges and Opportunities for the Next Decade”.

This theme is a major thematic research area in the School’s new 5-year strategic plan and responds to growing concern about urban health issues in megacities. This roundtable was joined by nearly 200 healthcare leaders, policymakers, think-tank representatives, environmental advocates, scholars, researchers and students.

The roundtable opened with a short video compiled by the School on challenges and opportunities of healthier cities. This was followed by remarks by Professor Keiji Fukuda, Director of School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU: “Cities today are facing complex and difficult challenges and it is important that a broad, interdisciplinary and coherent approach is used to address how to make cities healthier, greener and more sustainably liveable.” Professor Fukuda noted that Hong Kong has the highest life expectancy in worldwide rankings for the second year in a row and yet continues to score badly in the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. He then shared a second video in which students, staff, partners, friends and family members said what a healthy city meant to them.

(From left): Professor Keiji Fukuda; Professor Stefano Bertozzi; Professor Chang-Chuan Chan; Professor Kee-Seng Chia; Professor Christine Loh; Professor Antoine Flahault; Professor William Hayward; Dr Shin Young-soo; Professor Wei J. Chen; and Professor Chris Webster
(From left): Professor Keiji Fukuda; Professor Stefano Bertozzi; Professor Chang-Chuan Chan; Professor Kee-Seng Chia; Professor Christine Loh; Professor Antoine Flahault; Professor William Hayward; Dr Shin Young-soo; Professor Wei J. Chen; and Professor Chris Webster

The panellists provided an overview of urban health issues such as environmental pollution, mental health, built environment and urban planning, diabetes, obesity, open space, green environment, and climate change. They exchanged views on the public policy approaches adopted by countries in the region, as well as the experiences of the healthy cities movement in Europe and Latin America.

Members agreed that health is the business of all sectors and that it is important to engage multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary partners, including the private sector, local governments, and the citizenry. The panel agreed that there is a need for political, economic, social, development and health agendas to dovetail and that opportunities abound for achieving healthier and more sustainable cities. A message from the opening video reverberated and made perhaps the critical point: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

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