World Health Organization European Healthy Cities lead Kira Fortune heard how research and health innovation are making it easier for people to live healthy lives in Derry City and Strabane when she visited the city and district on Friday 9 September.

She attended the 2023 Derry and Strabane Healthy City and District Conference at Ulster University’s Derry~Londonderry campus on Friday 8 September, where speakers including Derry City & Strabane District Council (DCSDC) Climate Programme Manager Cathy Burns, Translink Bus Operations Northern Area Manager Sarah Simpson and British Science Association Head of Grants Chris Manion presented innovative projects which will boost health and sustainability. 

Derry City & Strabane achieved designated Healthy City status for the third time in 2022, recognizing the council area’s commitment to the six Healthy Cities themes of ‘people, planet, place, participation, peace and prosperity. 

The conference, hosted by Developing Healthy Communities (DHC) and Ulster University, brought together a diverse array of policymakers, healthcare professionals, community leaders, and academics to share groundbreaking initiatives and explore strategies to foster innovation and sustainability in health and urban development.  

The healthy cities programme in Derry City & Strabane is supported by DCSDC and the Public Health Agency and connects community, statutory, business and academic leaders to put health and the factors that influence health at the forefront of decision-making. 

Kira says:

Kira Fortune

“Partnerships and collaboration are necessary in achieving a sustainable and healthy future and it was heartening to see the work that is happening across sectors to improve health in Derry City & Strabane. The complexity of public health challenges we are faced with today, including economic and environmental concerns, are challenges that no one sector, group of stakeholders or country can address on their own. These challenges require a multisectoral approach and cooperation among multiple stakeholders; in other words, shared challenges require shared  solutions and responses. As Derry City & Strabane continues to fortify their partnership with the WHO European Healthy Cities Network, our ongoing collaboration remains crucial in addressing such shared public health challenges and striving towards a sustainable and healthy future for all. 

Developing Healthy Communities Chief Executive Edel O’Doherty says:

“As the local strategic lead for WHO Healthy Cities we have a fantastic view of the collective health assets we have as a city and district and see people from all sectors andEdel O'Doherty communities working collaboratively to improve health outcomes on a daily basis. It’s a privilege to be able to showcase a small selection of those amazing projects. We cannot be complacent about the persistent health inequalities that we face here and we encourage all sectors to join in our efforts to improve the health outcomes of our people.” 

Public Health Agency (PHA) Head of Health & Social Wellbeing Improvement Fiona Teague says:

“The places where people live and work have a profound impact on their overall health and well-being. A healthy environment is not just a matter of physical wellness but encompasses mental, social, and emotional aspects as well. Access to green spaces, clean air, safe neighborhoods, and meaningful community engagement are essential components of a healthy living and working environment. By fostering such environments, we create the conditions for individuals and communities to thrive, promoting long-lasting health and well-being for everyone.” 

Derry City & Strabane District Council Mayor Patricia Logue says: 

“In Derry and Strabane there is strong collaboration between our council, Health and Social Care services and a wide range of statutory, voluntary and community groups working together to make a difference. This conference has been a great showcase of best practice, sustainability and innovation in health.” 

Ulster University Director of Regional Engagement Professor Malachy O’Neill says: 

“Ulster University is proud to host the 2023 Derry & Strabane Healthy City and District Conference. The University is a catalyst for health innovation, from the School of Medicine which is not only training the next generation of doctors, but leading extensive research in Personalised Medicine. These programmes delivered alongside our Health Sciences, Paramedic Science and Nursing, reaffirms the campus’ position as a multi-disciplinary centre for health-care excellence delivering a sustainable skills pipeline for the next generation.”