Home » The WHO and Egyptian Food Bank launch “Partnership for Healthy Cities” initiative

The WHO and Egyptian Food Bank launch “Partnership for Healthy Cities” initiative

by Madaline Dunn

This week, the Partnership for Healthy Cities initiative was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministries of Health and Population, Education and Technical Education, the Cairo Governorate, and the Egyptian Food Bank (EFB).

The joint initiative aims to safeguard citizens health from non-communicable diseases by providing school canteens with the necessary equipment and supplies to offer healthy food options.

Alongside this, the Egyptian Food Bank will provide healthy foods, operate the school canteen, and conduct interactive activities to promote health messages in selected schools as part of EFB’s ‘School Nutrition’ program.

It was shared that this program is a key part of EFB’s prevention pillar initiatives aimed at preventing malnutrition in newborns and children up to 12 years old, focusing on transitioning from treatment-oriented policies to preventive measures, targeting the reduction of food insecurity.

According to Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Minister of Health and Population, the ‘Partnership for Healthy Cities’ program also aligns with the ministry’s and the Egyptian government’s citizen health improvement efforts, seen in the launch of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s initiative to combat obesity, anemia, and stunting among children in schools, among other initiatives and programs aimed at fostering a disease-free future.

The results of the presidential initiative to detect malnutrition among primary school students for the academic year 2022/2021 found a prevalence of anaemia among children aged 6-12 years of approximately 17 per cent. Meanwhile, roughly 4.5 per cent in the same age group suffered from stunting, and 12 per cent suffered from obesity.

Dr. Nima Abid, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Egypt, outlined that individual health is influenced by a complex interplay of biological factors, encompassing physical, mental, and psychological dimensions, as well as environmental, behavioral, social, and economic determinants. 

Further, citing that non-communicable diseases account for roughly 84 per cent of deaths in Egypt, the parties shared it was important to address the most prevalent risk factors, notably unhealthy nutrition. 

The ‘Partnership for Healthy Cities’ initiative is a global network backed by Bloomberg Philanthropies Organization, encompassing 70 cities, including Cairo. Its objective is to save lives by preventing non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. 

It was shared that initiative also evaluated the environment of school canteens and the quality of food sold, and from this, the organisation provided the equipment and supplies that would enable canteens to sell healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables as healthy alternatives.

Health educators and canteen staff were also trained to provide scientific information on these alternatives and encourage students to adopt healthy dietary patterns.

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