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Sharjah aims to be region’s first age-friendly city

Sharjah has become the first Arab city to join the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. Holding the inaugural meeting of the city’s age-friendly network committee in May, the initiative falls under the emirate’s 2017-2020 strategic plan.

In recent years, Sharjah has put increasing focus on environmental, ecological and societal issues and launched a wide range of initiatives to improve and enhance the well-being of residents. Earlier this year UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, announced Sharjah city as the Middle East’s first ‘Child Friendly City’, an initiative that aims to guide cities in the inclusion of children’s rights as a key component of their goals, policies, programmes and structures. This followed the government’s Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign, launched in 2011, which aimed to support breastfeeding mothers and their access to health facilities, nurseries, public places and workplaces.

Sharjah was also the first Arab country to join the World Health Organisation (WHO) Healthy Cities programme and was officially accredited as the Middle East’s first WHO Healthy City in 2015. The city was able to meet 88 percent of the 80 programme criteria, becoming the first Middle Eastern country to be accredited as a WHO Healthy City.

Sharjah is now one of 500 cities from around the world to join the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. The Age-Friendly Cities network has grown to include 500 cities and communities in 37 countries covering over 155 million people.

According to Sharjah’s 2015 official census, there are a total of 11,008 people classified as being retired from work and a further 6,755 are unable to work. The emirate has a relatively young population of 1.4 million with more than half of residents being between the ages of 20 to 39 and just 20 percent being over 40 years of age.

Sharjah’s age-friendly network committee met this week to review four main objectives for the city’s 4-year strategic plan. Objectives include improving services offered to older members of the society across various sectors and preparing the community for a demographic shift in favour of the elderly as a result of an ageing of the population.

Source: WHO, media

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