By Majd Othman

KUWAIT: In line with the World Health Organization's health-in-all setting agenda and recognizing that determinants of health are in all aspects of society, WHO Kuwait hosted a conference on Tuesday titled "Creating Healthy Spaces, from Customer to Community" to raise awareness and understanding of the healthy spaces concept, focusing on mother and child friendly spaces and smoke-free buildings, as well as youth and community engagement.

The objectives of this campaign are to highlight policies and mechanisms that are in practice to aid the shift to health spaces; share learnings on good practices through case studies on creating healthy spaces in the private sector; and identify the barriers that may hinder adoption and creation of healthy spaces within the private sector. Ultimately, these learnings will feed into the health ecosystem's strategy to help address the constraints.

Dr Assad Hafeez, WHO Representative to Kuwait, said "We believe there is a public will and common motivation to transform Kuwait's public spaces into health spaces, hence your participation with us today to collectively create a concrete action plan. We want to work collaboratively together to drive action to create healthier public spaces for Kuwait". He added: "The healthy spaces concept will ultimately reduce non-communicable diseases that are widespread in Kuwait, hence promoting UN's sustainable development goals of health and well-being."

Dr Rihab Al-Wotayan

Dr Rihab Al-Wotayan, Director International Health Relations Department at the Ministry of Health, pointed out in her speech that the ministry of health is dedicated to fostering health and wellbeing for all and in line with Kuwait's 2035 vision. She pointed out that working closely with WHO helps to address the multidimensional determinants of health in Kuwait, including the impact of the environment, ensuring adequate human capital for health and creating healthy spaces that serve as enabling environments for all of Kuwait's population, which it is a part of the discussion in this panel.

"The ministry of health is also leading coordinated actions across the government to ensure that all members of society work towards a shared vision of health and wellbeing in Kuwait. However, this is just one piece of the health ecosystem. Working with multi-sectoral leaders is another important piece of this ecosystem," Wotayan said.

Tarek El-Sheikh, United Nations Resident Coordinator, told Kuwait Times that Kuwait has been working on health issues and healthy lifestyles and is not starting from scratch. Kuwait has many examples of healthy environments, such as creating and promoting awareness campaigns of adopting a healthy lifestyle. "But what we need in Kuwait is to try raise awareness on how to create healthy spaces, buildings and tracks where people can enjoy their social activities and create a better mental and physical lifestyle for all," he added.