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WHO Official Monika Kosinska Visits the Healthy Cities Network in Turkey


Ms Monika Kosinska, who succeeded Agis Tsouros as the Regional Focal Point of the World Health Organization European Healthy Cities Network last year, and her colleague Adam Tiliouine, visited the Turkish Healthy Cities Association (THCA) and member municipalities Istanbul, Bursa and Izmir on 17-21 April 2017.

Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Visit

Ms Kosinska started her visit with Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Assistant Secretary General Nihat Macit and Head of Health Department Dr. Muzaffer Sarac greeted the WHO officials in IMM (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality) Kasimpasa Additional Service Building and informed them about health and municipal services in Istanbul. THCA Advisory Board member Prof. Dr. Handan Turkoglu also accompanied the meeting.

In the meeting, IMM Assistant Secretary General Nihat Macit and Head of Health Department Muzaffer Sarac stated that transportation and environment issues are of first priority in municipal services in Istanbul and they expressed that they presented a habitable city design away from stress by securing environmental health with regulations and making people’s lives easier.

IMM Head of Health Department Muzaffer Sarac said “While we are offering protective, preventive, treatment and rehabilitative services in health to increase the quality of life of people living in Istanbul, we are also offering social services to people in Istanbul who are old, disabled, in need of care and having economic problems. Our fundamental policy in our services is to prioritize the risk groups such as the old, child, disabled and women, to provide services for preventive medicine and public health, to bring the given services in compliance with international standards/EU standards, to cooperate with universities and non-governmental organizations; with reference to understanding of solving problems on the spot and with relevant individuals; we are supporting the policies and works increasing the community involvement by making future plans on the basis of performance assessments.

Ms Kosinska stated that there are 96 cities from 33 countries in WHO European Healthy Cities Network and there are 13 Turkish cities in this network. The network represents a total of nearly 1000 municipalities in Europe. Istanbul has previously been a member for three years but is not a member of the current phase of the network. . The Network is now in Phase VI, which started in 2014 and will end in 2018, when it will be succeeded by the next Phase. The themes for the next phase are currently under consultation, and will be fully aligned with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In response to the question whether there is a point at which Istanbul wants to be added in the preparation stage of working plan of the phase, IMM officials expressed that it would be beneficial to address the social aspects of health services as well as city planning and architectural aspects.

Ms. Kosinska noted that “a new Phase is being developed by the WHO European Healthy Cities Network, in conjunction with the WHO Regional Office for Europe. It is fully aligned with 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by all Member States of the United Nations, including Turkey, in New York in September 2015, where they accepted these objectives and committed to work towards their achievement. Cities and mayors are both incredibly important in implementing the 2030 Agenda, as they are the closest level of governance to the people and the public. Therefore, the WHO European Healthy Cities Network will be holding a mayors summit in Copenhagen in February 2018, to discuss and adopt the political vision of the network for the next phase” She invited Dr. Kadir Topbas, the Mayor of Istanbul, and a delegation to attend the summit.

Bursa Metropolitan Municipalityand Turkish Healthy Cities Association Visit

After the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality visit, Monika Kosinska and her colleague Adam Tiliouine visited the Mayor of Bursa Metropolitan Municipality (BMM) and President of Turkish Healthy Cities Association Recep Altepe. BMM Head of Environmental Protection and Control Department and Healthy Cities Coordinator Nalan Fidan, BMM Protocol Branch Manager Huseyin Buran and Director of THCA Murat Ar also participated to the visit. In the meeting, Mr. Altepe addressed to the works regarding transportation, health, dealing with environmental pollution, protection of cultural and historical heritages, educational support and domestic manufacturing of railway cars and planes. Ms. Kosinska stated that the objective of her visit was to understand the work of Turkish Healthy Cities Association and member municipalities, and to discuss their future role in the next stage of the Network, identifying concrete areas for action and projects that the WHO European Healthy Cities Network and the THCA could collaborate on. She emphasized the importance of sharing good practice within the Network, such as using the work of Bursa as an example for other cities in the network, as it is a pioneer city. Ms. invited Recep Altepe to the Mayor’s summit that will take place in Copenhagen in Feburary 2018, where the vision of the next Phase will be determined and adopted, together with other mayors. She also invited Recep Altepe to the Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, Ostrava, Czech Republic, 13-15 June 2017.The following day, the WHO delegation visited the Turkish Healthy Cities Association. Association secretariat and Association Advisory Board Member Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emel Irgil participated to the meeting held in the Association’s building. In the meeting, Director of THCA Murat Ar, who made a presentation about the structure and activities of Association, shared the work with member municipalities on bicycle routes and bicycle use policies as an effective means of transport, occupational health and safety in local governments and role of local governments in the fight against substance abuse. Emphasizing that the member number of the association is increasing every year, Murat Ar stated that they are trying to encourage the member municipalities on the preparation of city health profile and carbon footprint inventory. In his presentation, Murat Ar also shared the assessment of survey results which are conducted for member municipalities.

After the presentation, Ms. Kosinska and THCA discussed ideas for potential collaboration between the WHO European Healthy Cities Network and THCA, as THCA is one of the strongest and most active networks in the WHO European Region.

After the visit of the WHO officials to the THCA, they visited the Youth and Family Support Center, which operates under the roof of Bursa Metropolitan Municipality on the fight against addiction, and they were informed about the works of the center. Welcomed by the official sociologist of the Center, Gokhan Ozturk, the delegation were informed about the foundation purpose and works of the center.

After their visit to the Center, the delegation went to the Bursa Metropolitan Municipality to be informed about environmental projects and investments of Bursa Metropolitan Municipality and transportation policies and transportation projects. In the meeting chaired by the BMM Assistant Secretary General Fehmi Okten, presentations were made by the Head of Environmental Protection and Control and Healthy Cities Coordinator Nalan Fidan and Transportation Coordination Branch Manager Selahattin Dinc. Waste Management Branch Manager Yesim Dedeoglu, Environmental Engineer Yildiz Cindoruk and Sinem Ozturk form Transportation Branch Office and Director of THCA Murat Ar accompanied the meeting.

Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Visit

On arrival in Izmir, for their visit to Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, the WHO delegation was greeted in Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Healthy Cities and Clean Energy Branch Office.

Giving information about the City of Izmir, the Management Project team also organized a tour on “Social Life Campus” which has been established on a field of 65.302 m² and is the biggest investment in terms of social municipality application of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality. In the “Social Life Campus” which is the biggest in Turkey in terms of its content, there are facilities such as nursing home, education center for disabled people, rehabilitation center for the old and disabled, child and youth center, food bank and indoor sports hall.

On the second day of the visit, the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, which offered an innovative solution model to the employment problem, organized a technical trip to a 108 year old historical building in Halkapinar which was a Wheat Factory before and is being used as a Profession Factory now after its restoration by İzmir Metropolitan Municipality. In this building, there are educations in 75 branches, ranging from digger operatorship to make-up expertise in courses which are opened to meet the personnel requirement of industry and service sector. Yasar University R&D and Application Center (YAGEM), Union of Chambers of Merchants and Craftsmen of Izmir (IESOB), Ege University Solar Energy Institute, Izmir Provincial Directorate of National Education and Aegean Industrial Chamber is supporting this project as partners and Ege University Aegean Vocational School of Higher Education and Izmir Provincial Management of Turkish Employment Agency are supporting this project as contributors.

Unit officials gave information about the services of Profession Factory which aims at eliminating the lack of “qualified human resource” of key sectors that can directly affect the competitive power and economic development level of the city, one of the most important innovative contributions of it is to create a structure that brings together the institutions of vocational education, employment and industrial institutions on a local level and aims at creating a great synergy by keeping the representatives of all actors which are going to take the city one step further.

Afterwards, a presentation regarding municipal services for 6th Phase was made at Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Healthy Cities and Clean Energy Branch Office.

Lastly, being hosted by the Mayor of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Aziz Kocaoglu, the WHO delegation, Ms. Kosinska and Mr. Tiliouine, ended their visit to Turkey by stating that Ms. Kosinska would like to see the impressive works of the City of Izmir, and the THCA on the whole continue into the next phase of the Network, with further collaboration strongly encouraged.

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