Press Release

Minister for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, TD, launches the National Healthy Cities and Counties of Ireland Network

The Minister of State for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, TD, formally launched the National Healthy Cities and Counties of Ireland Network today in Dublin City Hall.

The National Healthy Cities and Counties of Ireland Network is being launched under the aegis of Healthy Ireland, the Government-led initiative which aims to create an Irish society where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health, and where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society. The Healthy Cities project is a global World Health Organization (WHO) movement, set up initially in 1987 with eleven individual cities. The concept is based on the importance of local action and the key role of local governments and Local Authorities in health and sustainable development.

The Minister also presided over the presentation of certificates of accreditation to the Network to Waterford City and County Council, Cork City Council, Galway City Council, South Dublin County Council and Offaly County Council. The Minister congratulated the Counties on making a commitment to work to become healthier places for all their citizens by working to implement Healthy Ireland, the National Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025 and went on to say

“As a former elected member of a Local Authority I know that Local Authorities are uniquely placed to bridge the gap between national policy and local implementation. I know the influence and reach that Local Authorities have in every community and I see huge potential for them to contribute to building a healthier Ireland. I believe that we cannot achieve the vision of Healthy Ireland without the involvement of every Local Authority in Ireland. Healthy Ireland is all about supporting and empowering communities and individuals to lead healthier lives and the involvement of Local Authorities and the Local Community Development Committees is critical”.

Ms. Elisabeth Bengtsson, World Health Organization, explained that “for WHO Europe it is very important to continue supporting and strengthening national networks, cities and counties to further expand National Healthy Cities Networks within the WHO European Region and internationally. Declarations and strategies at international and national levels are important as common grounds for understanding; but to make them happen, and to foster real change, they have to be interpreted and put into actions at the local level where people live their lives and can have their say”.

Ms Bengtsson added that “the launch of the National Healthy Cities and Counties of Ireland today marks the continued commitment of Ireland to achieving greater solidarity and enhanced delivery, innovation and learning across Europe in implementing Healthy Ireland, Health 2020 and the Sustainable Development Goals, to improve health and health equity for all. I am therefore very proud to on behalf of the WHO be here today to welcome our new National Network member: the National Healthy Cities and Counties of Ireland Network.”

Chair of the Network, Mr. Joe Stokes said “Under the guidance of National Policy, and working with existing agencies, the Network aims to share best practice in promoting health and wellbeing; and also highlight issues that impact on health and wellbeing and seek to influence national policy”. Mr Stokes added that “the link and representation at the WHO level is also very important for Ireland”.
Dr. Stephanie O’Keeffe, Director of the Health and Wellbeing Division in the HSE said “the Healthy Ireland agenda is extensive. Improving our population’s health and reducing health inequalities spans across many areas, including job creation, food production, policy on the environment, transport and housing, technology innovation, community development and human behaviour. Our Local Authorities are leaders and critical partners in promoting and improving the nation’s health”. Dr. O’Keeffe also emphasised “the unique position of the Local Community Development Committees to understand and respond to local people’s needs”

Concluding her remarks the Minister emphasised the importance of actions to address Ireland’s problem with alcohol misuse and called for a repositioning of alcohols place in Irish society. She said three people die every day due to alcohol abuse, that it is a factor in half of all suicides and that between 2001 and 2010, one in ten breast cancer cases was attributed to alcohol yet, as we know from the Healthy Ireland Survey, only 27% of women are aware of this link between alcohol and breast cancer.

Minister Corcoran Kennedy said that the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will help bring about a cultural shift in how we view and consume alcohol, and that as a consequence we will see an improvement in both physical and mental health wellbeing in the population.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Healthy Cities Project

The Healthy Cities project is a global World Health Organization (WHO) movement, set up in 1986. It involves Local Authorities working to improve health and wellbeing through political commitment, working in partnership with local stakeholders and supporting innovative projects. The WHO European Healthy Cities projects’ main goal is to put health high on Local Authorities’ social, economic and political agendas.

Building on the work of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network, the National Healthy Cities and Counties Network of Ireland is working to develop a structure and provide supports to implement Healthy Ireland at local level. The Network aims to encourage best practice in promoting lifelong health, provide a forum through which local issues can influence national policy, and provide a voice for Ireland within the WHO Network of European Healthy Cities.

The Healthy Cities and Counties Network has representatives from a range of stakeholder organisations, including Government Departments, the HSE, Institute of Public Health, Federation of Irish Sport, and local political and community representatives.
National Healthy Cities and Counties of Ireland Network

Building on the work of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network, the National Healthy Cities and Counties Network of Ireland is working to develop a structure and provide supports at local level to implement Healthy Ireland, A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025.

Many factors affect our health – where we live, our environment, our genetics, our income and education level, our relationship with friends and family. These factors (‘determinants of health’) are often outside the direct influence of health and social services.

The Healthy Cities and Counties way of working and thinking includes involving local people in decision-making, requires political commitment and organisational and community development, and recognises the process to be as important as the outcomes.

A healthy city or county works to:
improve health and wellbeing by creating and continually improving its physical and social environments, and
develop community resources that help people to support each other and achieve their potential.

The National Healthy Cities and Counties of Ireland Network has representatives from government departments, the HSE, the Institute of Public Health and the Federation of Irish Sport and local political and community representatives.