More investment and participatory spaces to promote health in neighborhoods

10 Sep 2022
Wellness week

Washington, D.C. September 10, 2022 (PAHO). For this years’ Wellness Week, September 10-16, the Pan American Health Organization is urging national and local governments to make a greater investment to promote health in neighborhoods.

The population groups with the worst health outcomes in the countries of the Region are also those who live in poor quality housing, have poor access to water and sanitation and other basic services, have less access to education, hold precarious jobs, have low levels of income and consumption, poor access to health services, and suffer marginalization, exclusion, and social discrimination. These groups demonstrate the material manifestations of socioeconomic inequality.

PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne said in a video message that "The commitment of governments towards the implementation of intersectoral public policies and programs so that all neighborhoods have basic services, safe public transportation, areas where we can socialize, safe streets, places to walk and green spaces, is so important."

She also said that "Neighborhoods are critical for our health and are even more relevant at this time when we are starting to pick up our community life again, after two years of the pandemic with limitations that have prevented us from enjoying life in the neighborhoods.”

She recognized the efforts of many municipalities in the region that are working on making their environments healthy, responding to the needs of people, and facilitating strategies that improve the conditions of places where they are born, work, study and have fun. Dr. Etienne also emphasized that neighborhoods are made by people and that communities have a key role in promoting health and wellness. She therefore invited the population to get involved in their neighborhoods and participation processes.

This year's Wellness Week campaign theme is; "Our neighborhood, our health", and the campaign highlights neighborhoods as drivers and promoters of health and emphasizes the importance of promoting healthy living and creating social cohesion.

The Wellness Week initiative began in 2011 inspired by the Caribbean Wellness Day and is now celebrated in all countries in the Americas region on the second Saturday of September as an opportunity to emphasize the importance of health promotion for the wellbeing of individuals and communities and to emphasize a positive vision of health.

Partners include the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Alliance of Latin American Public Health Associations (AASPA) and the American Public Health Association (APHA).

Learn more about the campaign here.