Sharjah Wants to Fight Obesity With Air-Conditioned Walkways

Published December 20th, 2017 - 10:53 GMT
Sharjah will soon have air-conditioned walkways to beat the five months of summer that "prevent people from being active." (Shutterstock)
Sharjah will soon have air-conditioned walkways to beat the five months of summer that "prevent people from being active." (Shutterstock)

In a first, the city of Sharjah will soon have air-conditioned walkways to beat the five months of intense summer that prevent people from being active causing obesity, said Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, at the two-day global Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance Forum 2017.

Addressing the opening session of the NCD forum along with Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of Sheikh Sultan and patron of the Global NCDA Forum, the Sharjah Ruler said that the walkways had already been designed and would soon be in the implementation stage.

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"We will have the first, best air-conditioned walkways because during five months of the year, the temperatures are so high that people are unable to exercise," he said, adding that rubber-paved paths had been made available for the public already.

"We have implemented a ban on smoking in many public places, which has led to a decrease in smoking deaths and for 32 years, Sharjah has taken the lead in the prohibition of alcohol, which is responsible for 10 per cent of all cancer deaths, in any place within the emirate," Sheikh Sultan added.

The Sharjah Ruler said that the Global NCD Alliance Forum is more than an event - it is a catalyst for change. "People thought that this forum may be about grand speeches and plans, with everything then forgotten, this is not the case. This is a place of practical action."

Sawsan Jafar, chairperson of the Friends of Cancer Patients' board of directors, remarked on the progress made since the inaugural NCD Alliance Forum in 2015.

"Today's convention is a significant stride towards perpetuating the achievements of the forum's first edition, which culminated in the 'Sharjah Declaration for Non-Communicable Diseases', emphasising the importance of supporting the UN's Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030," Jafar said.

The current forum's theme 'Stepping up the Pace for NCDs' reaffirms its commitment to put intentions into action, said the speakers and dignitaries.

José Luis Castro, president of the NCD Alliance, said: "Non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and mental and neurological disorders are the global health tsunami of the 21st century. These are devastating communities, crippling health systems and thwarting economies through widespread sickness, disability, and untimely and often avoidable deaths. No country is immune, and no country has this tidal wave under control.

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"The data speaks volumes. If the world continues down the current path of 'business as usual', one-third of the world's population will be living with obesity by 2025. Diabetics will be close to 500 million; over 320 million people will have died from an NCD; that is equivalent to the entire population of the US, and over 120 million of those deaths will have been preventable.

"The amount it will have cost developing countries alone since 2011 will be $7 trillion, equivalent to the combined GDP of France, India, and Brazil last year."

By Asma Ali Zain


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