WHO Sees Healthier Beijing as Olympic Legacy

2008-08-21 16:21 780

BEIJING, Aug. 21 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- The World Health Organization (WHO) is pleased with the progress China has made on key public health issues in preparation for the Olympic Games. The challenge is to see the investments made by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), WHO and IOC translate into lasting health impacts on food safety, air quality, tobacco control, and outbreak prevention and control.

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"From our point of view, these were successful Games," said Dr Hans Troedsson, Representative of the WHO in China. "China made some important steps forward in vital areas. We look forward to seeing this progress maintained once the athletes have gone home and the post-Olympic era begins."

WHO worked closely with China’s Ministry of Health, China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau on enhancing outbreak diagnostic and communications capacity. Throughout the Games, Chinese parties worked closely with a WHO team of technicians, for example, to expand the range of diagnostic tests available in-country. WHO consulted daily with its Chinese counterparts in a two-way flow of information on disease monitoring.

With partners in the Bloomberg Initiative, WHO supported BOCOG’s work to make these Games tobacco-free. (Launched in 2006 with funds from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bloomberg Initiative aims to reduce tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries.)

A guide on safe food for travelers and another on healthy lifestyles were produced and distributed throughout Beijing in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and the Beijing Food Safety Administration. "The 3 Fives" program -- which encourages exercise, healthy eating and safe food preparation techniques -- will expand its reach in China and spread to other countries as well.

"The athletic and architectural successes we have seen were thrilling," said Dr Troedsson. "The Games themselves will have proven to be even more successful if years from now we can point to lasting health impacts for the residents of the host cities and others in China."

A monograph on the health legacy of the Beijing Olympics will be prepared for release in 2009.

Source: World Health Organization