World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific

World Health Day

What is World Health Day?

April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.

Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.

Urban Health Matters

This year, World Health Day focuses on urbanization and health, in recognition of the effect urbanization has on our collective health globally and for us all individually.

World Health Day 2010 campaign: 1000 Cities, 1000 Lives 

With the campaign 1000 cities, 1000 lives, events will be organized worldwide during the week of 7 – 11 April 2010. The global goals of the campaign are:

1000 cities: to open up public spaces to health, whether it be activities in parks, town hall meetings, clean-up campaigns, or closing off portions of streets to motorized vehicles.

1000 lives: to collect 1000 stories of urban health champions who have taken action and had a significant impact on health in their cities.

Register your city's event for the World Health Day 2010 campaign

Some facts on urbanization

  • Over 3 billion people live in cities.
  • In 2007, the world's population living in cities surpassed 50% for the first time in history.
  • By 2030, six out of every 10 people will be city dwellers, rising to seven out of every 10 people by 2050.


          In our Region
  • Over 0.8 billion people live in cities in the Western Pacific.
  • 60% of the increase in the global population in the next 20 years is expected to be in the Asia Pacific.
  • It is estimated that half a billion people live in informal settlements in Asia, and five out of six newly poor are in cities.

More on urbanization and health (fact sheet) (technical presentation)

Message of the Regional Director,
Dr Shin Young-soo, for World Health Day

Rapid and unplanned population growth in urban areas is a global reality, particularly in developing countries. And the Western Pacific Region is no exception. While urbanization has in some cases created better opportunities for employment, greater access to education and social services, improved housing and living conditions, and higher socioeconomic development, it has also brought a number of problems that directly impact health. In most instances, solutions to these problems must go beyond the traditional domain of the health sector and require the involvement of non-health sectors such as education, trade, industry, transport and urban planning, as well as participation at the community level.

In recognition of the profound impact of urbanization on our collective health and for all of us individually, the focus of this year’s celebration of World Health Day on 7 April, 2010 is Urbanization and Health. With the global campaign “1000 cities, 1000 lives”, cities will close streets, organize physical-activity events, promote local culture and safe food and conduct other events to raise awareness of the role of cities in promoting health. The global campaign intends to mobilize 1000 cities to sign up for the campaign and to tell their stories as well as the stories of 1000 urban health champions through a website and other forms of interactive media.
In the Western Pacific Region, we are highlighting “Environmentally Sustainable and Healthy Urban Transport” (ESHUT) as one of the approaches to achieve healthy urbanization. The policy, design and operation of urban transport systems impact the health and safety of people through air and noise pollution, greenhouse gas emissions generated by motor vehicles, road traffic injuries, exposure to second-hand smoke in confined public transport systems, and the lack of accessibility for older people and those with disabilities. Our overall objective is to promote a win-win strategy for urban transport system to achieve good urban mobility that impacts positively on health.

In celebration of World Health Day, the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office will host a Cities Forum in Manila on 7 April to showcase the efforts of five cities in the area of ESHUT. Those cities are Seoul and Changwon (Republic of Korea), Marikina (Philippines), Nagoya (Japan), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia). We hope that this Forum will be the launching pad for policies and action on environmentally sustainable and healthy urban transport within the Region and that more cities will place the environment and health at the center of their development. We urge all Member States and our partners to join us in celebration of World Health Day 2010 and in advocating for cities that promote health, development and a better quality of life for all.

Message of the Director-General,
Dr Margaret Chan, for World Health Day

(Urban health threatened by inequities)

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World Health Day 2010

Environmentally Sustainable and Healthy Urban Transport



Health Promotion Unit