Mayor of Arequipa commits to improving physical activity, air quality and road safety.
Arequipa transport and health authorities yesterday gathered at the city’s Town Hall of the Provincial Council to present the new publication, Moviéndonos hacia una Ciudad Saludable (“Moving Us Towards a Healthy City.”) Among the meeting’s attendees were Mayor of Arequipa Alfredo Zegarra Tejada, Deputy Minister of Health Enrique Jacoby, and EMBARQ Director Holger Dalkmann.
Claudia Adriazola, EMBARQ’s director of health and road safety, presented a summary of the publication, which includes the results of three studies that form baseline indicators of Arequipa’s air pollution, road safety and physical activity. The research demonstrates the close relationship between public transport and public health in Arequipa, as the city’s citizens face serious health risks stemming from poor public transport, poor urban planning and management, and lack of public spaces for walking and bicycling.
“Moving Us Towards a Healthy City” will inform the implementation of the city's System of Integrated Transport, known as ArequipaBus. It is expected that by 2014, a year after ArequipaBus is fully operational, the city’s air pollution, road safety and physical activity will be re-evaluated, in order to quantify the impact of the new transport system. External support and expertise for these evaluations will be provided by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), World Health Organization (WHO) and EMBARQ Andino.
The results of the publication’s studies conclude that in the period between 2007 and 2009, there were 2.288 accidents, causing 320 deaths and 1.081 serious injuries in Arequipa; the level of air pollution in the city (0.195 mg / m3) is almost 8 times greater than the standard set by the WHO (0025 mg/m3); and physical activity is inadequate, as less than 10 percent of Arequipans walk more than 30 minutes per day and only 3 percent use bicycling as a transport mode. This widespread physical inactivity exposes the city’s population to many associated health risks, including cardiovascular issues, diabetes and obesity.
Arequipa’s Vice Minister of Health presented guidelines and strategies to promote physical activity, while considering the issues identified and analyzed in the “Moving Us Towards a Healthy City” publication. The Vice Minister’s efforts come as part of a bundle of public policies promoted by Arequipa’s Ministry of Health.
Vice Minister of Health Enrique Jacoby, Mayor of Arequipa Alfredo Zegarra Tejada, and an EMBARQ delegation, including Holger Dalkmann, Claudia Adriazola, Latin America Strategic Director Luis Gutierrez, and EMBARQ Andino Executive Director Jorge Jara, agreed on the importance of implementing the ArequipaBus system to create a healthy city. Fully realizing this integrated transport system will require additional external support and funding for infrastructural operations.
The ArequipaBus system will aid in alleviating Arequipa’s problems by providing safe and comfortable transportation, improving air quality, and reducing traffic crashes. The transport system will also promote physical activity through the expansion of new walkways, bike paths and public spaces. In addition to improving city life, these ArequipaBus advancements will also help reduce the risks and prevalence of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and stroke.
Finally, at the meeting, Arequipa’s Mayor and Deputy Minister, along with EMBARQ's Director, agreed to intensify efforts to pedestrianize Arequipa’s historic city center and expand the city’s public spaces, recognizing the positive impact of walking and cycling on improving the city’s public health.