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SALURBAL Joins Mayors from Across the Americas for the Third Meeting of the Healthy Municipalities Movement in Paipa, Colombia


Paipa, Colombia, November 18, 2019

From October 31 to November 2, SALURBAL team members joined mayors, health ministers, other local authorities and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) representatives for three days of presentations, discussion and activities with the local community in Paipa, Colombia to set the foundations for the formalization of a network for healthy municipalities in Latin America.

The encounter marked the Third Regional Meeting of Mayors for Healthy Municipalities, Cities, and Communities in the Region of the Americas. The movement, which began as the Healthy Municipality Initiative led by PAHO, recognizes the key role of local governments in creating healthy public policies, supporting community participation, and reorienting health services to address the social determinants of health. In 2018 in Santiago de Cuba, mayors committed to revitalizing the movement; the meeting in Paipa marked an important step toward outlining criteria and establishing a formal network of healthy municipalities in the region.

Gerry Eijkemans, chief of the Health Promotion and Social Determinants Unit of PAHO described the evolution of the movement and guided participants in exercises to outline specific needs, priorities, and criteria for the formalization of a network of healthy municipalities. Ana Diez Roux of the Drexel Dornsife School of Public Health and Principal Investigator of the SALURBAL project presented the goals and preliminary results of the project, participated in discussion regarding the role of the academic sector in supporting the movement, and provided feedback regarding potential criteria, structural elements, and next steps for a formal network.


On October 31, Diez Roux of SALURBAL and Gerry Eijkemans of PAHO officially launched and presented the Health in All Urban Policies policy brief to Paipa mayor Yamit Noe Hurtado Neira. The brief was co-produced by SALURBAL and PAHO and provides an introduction to key concepts related to Health in All Policies, research, and evidence to support this approach, and recommendations for policymakers and for the academic community for leveraging action across sectors to promote health, equity, and environmental sustainability.


The Paipa meeting marked an important opportunity for SALURBAL representatives to engage with local authorities representing diverse contexts and priorities, to hear about their specific needs, and to reflect upon ways that the academic community can support ongoing work to formalize and effectively coordinate a network of healthy municipalities in the region.

Since April 2017, the SALURBAL project has brought together urban health researchers and practitioners from diverse countries and disciplines to examine links between Latin American urban environments and policies and health and environmental sustainability. The SALURBAL team spans 16 institutions in Latin America, two partner universities in the U.S., and two United Nations entities: The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Pan American Health Organization. Findings from the interdisciplinary and multinational project funded by the Wellcome Trust will uncover the ways city environments and policies affect health, as well as possible interactions between factors that could be both beneficial or harmful for health. Working with partners in international organizations and civil society, SALURBAL aims to generate and translate knowledge into actionable steps that policymakers and other decisionmakers can take to build cities that are healthier, more equitable, and more environmentally sustainable.