A bid for Norwich to become part of a worldwide network of ‘healthy cities’ could get the go ahead this week, if it is approved by councillors.
Norwich City Council’s cabinet is due to consider the recommendation to apply for Norwich to become a Healthy City as part of the World Health Organisation’s UK Healthy Cities Network.
Against a backdrop of ongoing health reform, the application demonstrates that the council and its partner agencies recognise that issues of health and wellbeing are everyone’s business.
Should Norwich achieve membership of the network, it will display a clear commitment for organisations to come together and collaborate to improve health and reduce health inequalities in the city.
Leader of Norwich City Council Brenda Arthur said: “Investing in the health of Norwich means investing in the future, and requires strong political will and a commitment to improve the health and well being of the people living in the city through the close collaboration of partners.
“The council believes everyone should have a fair chance in life and so, in its civic leadership role, is applying to become a healthy city.”
Recent data shows the health and wellbeing of people in Norwich differs from average in the following 10 areas: deprivation, children in poverty, GCSE achievement, violent crime, long-term unemployment, low levels of physical activity in children and adults, teenage pregnancy, hospital stays for self-harm, drug misuse and early deaths from cancer.
Health inequalities are largely preventable. They arise from a complex interaction of many factors including: housing, income, education, social isolation, disability - all of which are strongly affected by one's economic and social status and many of which require action by a range of public sector organisations.
Dr Cath Robinson, executive board member of the newly-formed Norwich Clinical Commissioning group (CCG), said: “This application brings together key partners in the city in a joint commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Norwich. Collectively, change can happen by making positive decisions on policies and practices that affect health.”
Joint director of public health, NHS Norfolk and Waveney and Norfolk County Council, Dr Jenny Harries said: “Seeking Healthy City status underlines the city partners’ strong commitment to address the health inequalities in Norwich, and I give it my full support.
"Better health for our residents is not just about healthcare; it involves partners working together on the full range of factors than can influence people's health. A good start in life, higher educational attainment, improved employment prospects, better housing conditions, and good transport facilities are just a few of these.
“We are committed to supporting the city with community development work and will be helping to provide the evidence that will help guide these efforts and show how well Norwich is doing in improving the health of its citizens."
Councillors from Norwich City Council’s cabinet will discuss the plan at their monthly meeting on Wednesday 11 July and will decide whether to support it.
If Norwich does seek to become one of the UK’s Healthy Cities, the benefits will include: membership of a dynamic and supportive network of 18 UK cities and towns and many more across the globe; a formal commitment to embedding health and health equity in all local policies; and Norwich being given a strong collective voice for public health and sustainable development.