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WHO Chief Calls for Multisectoral Collaboration in Global Health Advocacy

“Tobacco use kills around 6 million people each year. That’s a fact. Health literacy must extend from the personal to the political and policy levels,” said Margaret Chan, the director-general of WHO, in her keynote address at the 9th Global Conference on Health Promotion.

From November 21 to 24, World Health Organization officials, health ministers and health city mayors, totaling more than 1,180 health sector personnel from 126 countries and regions, will gather in Shanghai to discuss global health promotion and equity.

The conference, led by WHO, rotates host cities every three to four years. This year’s event is the first one to be held in China, the country with the world’s biggest population and thus the toughest challenge when it comes to health.

Describing the combination of legislative and fiscal measures as “among the most effective interventions,” Chan called for intersectional efforts at both the national and municipal levels to reshape people’s environments and lifestyle choices.

“Today’s complex health challenges can no longer be addressed by the health sector acting alone. Curbing the rise of antimicrobial resistance requires policy support from agriculture. Access to clean energy fuels economic growth, but it also reduces millions of deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular disease associated with air pollution,” Chan said.

Citing success in Australia, the U.K. and France, the director-general called on more countries to carry out Plain Packaging, a tobacco control measure headed by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“In October, WHO urged governments to introduce taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce their significant contribution to obesity, diabetes and dental decay,” she added.

Chan also urged governments to accept responsibility for protecting children from obesity, and for assisting the poor in accessing healthy foods.

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