EMBARQ partners with the Pan American Health Organization to advance sustainable transportation and public health in Latin American cities.
Over the last two decades, studies first conducted by transportation researchers and later supported by public health experts, have consistently shown the relationship between the built environment and health. Car dependent, low-density, and single land use cities negatively influence walking and biking, contribute to social stress, obesity and other chronic conditions. Conversely, in compact and diverse communities, characteristic of most Latin American cities, daily destinations are closer, mass transportation systems –good or bad- are used by most, and walking and biking are a more common transportation mode. Furthermore, car dependent developments, significantly contribute to emissions associated to pollution and climate change, which is now a source of growing concern and adds impetus to the adoption of sustainable transportation policies. Additionally, sustainable transport policies and projects deal with traffic safety, which can be considered as both a heath and a transport problem. Traffic safety doesn’t receive enough attention from governments despite the magnitude of its burden on society. Indeed, in developing countries it claims more than half a million lives per year and results in around 15 million injuries every year – the majority of these effect lower income households.
As part of EMBARQ’s effort to raise awareness of the link between sustainable transportation, land use, public health the Latin American program at EMBARQ/ WRI has accepted an invitation from PAHO, CDC, and Fundación Ciudad Humana (Colombia) to co-direct the third edition of the “Active Cities, Healthy Cities Contest”. This contest is aimed at recognizing cities of the Americas that are encouraging mass transit, pedestrian safety, public spaces, and physical activity. The third version of the contest will engage support from corporations and media that have shown growing interest in the future of our cities.
Additionally, at EMBARQ’s invitation, Dr. Enrique Jacoby, from the Pan American Health Organization, attended the 3rd International Congress on Sustainable Transport organized by CTS Mexico in Mexico City on September 17, 18 and 19. Dr. Jacoby presented a session on “Why does public transit and land use matter today for public health?” His presentation outlined the potential synergies between two apparently unrelated crises: an urban mobility crises and a chronic disease epidemic. In his presentation Dr. Jacoby explained how traditional approaches for tackling chronic diseases can now, through sustainable transportation, be upgraded to a more effective level of innovative, multidisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration, which has the true potential of attacking the problem at its roots.
Dr. Jacoby is the Regional Advisor on Nutrition at the CD Unit of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). He is a Peruvian medical doctor, who holds a degree in Public Health Nutrition from John Hopkins University. As a Regional Advisor to PAHO in the last five years, he has worked with ministers of health in several countries, including, Brazil, Chile, México, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba and Costa Rica. His focus is on the development of policy recommendations to improve physical activity and healthy eating.
PAHO/WHO is leading a Regional effort for the prevention and control of Chronic Diseases and implementing a strategy that prioritizes the promotion of healthy lifestyles and capacity building for community-base actions. EMBARQ is honored to partner with PAHO/WHO to promote healthy lifestyles. Together, we aim to improve human health through better living conditions throughout Latin America’s cities.