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Cities / Healthy Cities

Healthy cities network offers COVID-19 intervention services

By Andrew Sansom 17 Apr 2020 0

A global network of 70 cities committed to saving lives through the prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries has expanded to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Partnership for Healthy Cities is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vital Strategies. The initiative enables cities around the world to deliver high-impact policy or programmatic interventions to reduce NCDs and injuries in their communities.

As the novel coronavirus spreads rapidly in urban centres around the globe, cities are at the forefront of the response to this public health crisis. Moreover, those at greatest risk of experiencing the most severe COVID-19 health complications are people with hypertension, diabetes, chronic lung and heart disease, as well as other NCDs.

Broadening the technical scope of the Partnership to encompass COVID-19, the organisation is providing cities in the network with practical tools and resources for enhancing local efforts to combat the disease outbreak.

Areas of technical assistance include:

  • disease surveillance and epidemiologic support;
  • risk communication and public information campaign development;
  • legal and ethical analysis and guidance; and
  • public health social measures and other non-pharmaceutical interventions.

More specifically, resources include an interactive epidemic calculator, which can be used to model the transmission, death rate and healthcare burden of COVID-19. A simple factsheet is available offering advice for different groups and bodies – including older adults and those with underlying health problems, healthcare providers, and governments – advice on what they should do to protect themselves, patients and citizens, respectively. 

And a guide on risk and crisis communication principles is also available. It describes proactive communication to the public – what is known, what is unknown, what is being done, and how to get more information – as a critical and effective intervention, aimed at saving lives and minimising adverse consequences. A well-considered risk communication plan, says the guide, will facilitate effective two-way communication between health authorities and at-risk populations in response to COVID-19, helping cities respond to the pandemic in a focused and strategic manner.

According to the guide, effective and proactive risk communication can: 

  • prevent the public from becoming confused by an excessive amount of information, and minimise and manage misinformation that may undermine the public health response;
  • build trust in the response and increase the probability that health advice will be followed;
  • inform the public and help them understand the health risks that they and their loved ones face;
  • adapt and deliver complex scientific information, so that the perception of risk among affected populations is brought more in line with that of experts and authorities; and 
  • involve communities in non-pharmaceutical interventions (such as social distancing, school and business closures, stay-at-home orders), thereby increasing their effectiveness. 

City officials who have technical requests on implementing intervention strategies should contact For general inquiries, they should contact