The “Healthy city” project has started in 1987 by the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization to increase the interest for the positive way of thinking about the health in cities across Europe and to motivate and to start a direct collaboration of those cities with programs to improve health without watching the political barriers and borders.
At the level of European healthy cities network, when the project has started, the focus was put on the where the other cities and other inhabited areas in which people live and work, and in which can be put an improvement of the health of citizens.
The “Healthy city” project is based on the strategy: “Health for all in the 21st century” and “Local order for the 21st century”, whose principles are put in practice of the local activities on the level of their city.
Further, the project is based on the concept of the holistic nature of health, it’s indicating the dimension of the physical, mental, social and spiritual interdependence of health. It’s possible to put the influence on each of this dimension to improve the people’s health. The fundamental setting of the European “Healthy city” project is a cognition that in the political decision-making process at the municipal government must always consider its possible influence on the health as its basic value.
Since, there are many factors that influence the health (state of the environment, condition of the accommodation, social security and protection of citizens, education…), the “Healthy City” project encourages the activation and project partnership in the project of the representatives of different institutions/organizations/NGOs of every community. Just for this type of influence, to direct themselves to the health in the community, in a widest possible sense, implies the activation of representatives of the community who are active outside the health care system. With this process of common activation to improve the health, the support goes on the “intersectoral or interdepartmental activity”, the approach of improvement of the health in the community.
The European “Healthy City” project was carried out in several phases of which up to now has been completed five phases:
I. In the first phase, from 1987 to 1992, the focus was put on the increment of the participation of the local community, throwing away the political and institutional barriers in the establishment of a strong social policy of the health. The goal of this phase was to “build” and make it operative the “infrastructure” of the direction of the “Healthy City” project. In the first phase, participated 35 European cities, including Zagreb. The expected product at this phase – construction of the infrastructure of the Healthy City project.
II. In the second phase, from 1993 to 1998, the focus was put on the adoption of the social policy of the health at the city level, the connection of different system of the community and of the citizens in health alliance and the creation, the adoption and the implementation of strategic documents of the “Healthy city” – “ The city photos of health” and “The municipal plan of the health”. This document represents the basis of the consideration of the community priority, the strategic planning and the health care.
III. The third phase, from 1998 to 2003, was focused on the implementation of the Municipal plan of the sustainable development of the health as the main document of the Regional Office for Europe “Health for all in the 21st century” and “Local order for the 21st century”. In this phase, had participated fifty big European cities.
IV. The fourth phase (from 2003 to 2008) has round up more than 50 major European cities and also the same number of those little ones of its national networks. At this phase, the focus was put on four topics: the healthy urban planning, the healthy aging, the evaluation of performance on the health and the physical activity of citizens. During the fourth phase, thanks to the significant changes in the environment, there were introduced a couple of new subtopics – the health of migrants, the global warming, the preparation for the crisis situations (public health incidents, disasters…), the creative cities (promotion of urban quality of life through creativity) and the social marketing. The fourth phase of the European project was closed with the conference in Zagreb in October 2008, when was adopted the declaration which has formed the main challenge of the fifth phase.
V. Fifth phase (from 2008 to 2013) was determined by three basic topics: the development of the environment that allows the assistance and support, the healthy life, the healthy urban environment and the design of the social lines of health for the needs that equity is put in the all local policies. The main challenge in the fifth phase is based on the declaration: “First of all, the healthy city must be a city for all its citizens, inclusive, supportive, socially sensitive and able to respond to the various demands and expectations of the citizens”, and the slogan of the project in its fifth phase is “Health and equity in all local policies.”.
VI. phase of the Healthy city project, from 2014 to 2018.
In the 6th phase of the SZO healthy cities project, the cities will receive the opportunity to use the new scientific knowledge about the health and the social lines, on which is also based the Health 2020 strategy and the development of the priory areas (topics) of the fifth and sixth phase of the project. The main topics of the 6th phase are established by the Health 2020 strategy and the cities will be able to decide their priorities between the following topics:
- Investment in the health of people of all ages: the youngest age – initial development, elderly people, vulnerable groups, health clarification.
- Confrontation with the greatest challenges related to infectious and those noncontagious: Physical activity, Nutrition and obesity, Alcohol, Tobacco, Mental Benefit.
- Empowerment of people in oriented systems and of the capacities of public health care, readiness in emergencies e revitalization.
- Creating resistant communities and supportive environments: Resistant Community, Health conditions, Healthy urban planning and design, Healthy (ecological) transport, Climate changes, Housing and Renewal.
Today, the “Healthy Cities” project is a worldwide project that has a number of 2000 active cities of all the world and it’s one of the most promising projects to preserve and improve health. In the condition of life of the modern world and with the numerous risk for life, the “Healthy City” project stimulates nations, local community and individuals to take the responsibility for the own health care but also of their own citizens and improve it by using the own efforts.