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Economic Development and Health: Sharjah plans to build new AC Walkways to counter rising Non communicable diseases (NCD’s)

Empirical research has established a strong relationship between economic growth and health (Bloom et al. 2011). Economic growth is affected by ill health through increased expenditures on the individuals, households and the health system. At a macro level the socio economic impacts of poor health results increased rates of early retirement and reduced productivity that ultimately affects negatively on the overall projected economic growth of a country.  In 2014, World Health Organization (WHO) observed that 70 % of the 56.4 million global deaths were due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. Rapid economic advances in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have led to the population adopting a sedentary lifestyle, resulting in the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular illnesses, cancer and respiratory diseases according to local Gulf reports. The NCDs have become the leading cause of death in the GCC and it is estimated that costs related to the NCDs in GCC will rise to around $68 billion by 2022[1]

Transport is a key aspect of life due to its impact on economic growth and on individual and collective health McCarthy (2005). Urbanization and rising personal wealth, for example, has prompted many a local population to reject active outside activities and instead embraced fondness of processed foods and detestation of physical exercises.  The effects of physical activity go well beyond preventing overweight and obesity; major ingredients of poor health and catalysts of NCD’s.  Non-Motorized Transportation (NMT) includes all forms of travel that do not rely on an engine or motor for movement. This include walking and bicycle, and using small-wheeled transport (skates, skateboards, push scooters and hand carts).

NMT have a favorable environmental performance and are essential elements in the last mile of transport chains. Additionally Non-motorized transport has a potentially positive effect on physical activity behavior promoting healthy activities and the overall well-being of individuals. Most of all the emerging countries are recording increased use of non-motorized system with the some exception of the Middle Eastern countries where weather patterns discourage use of the systems. This however is likely to change in Sharjah an emirate- the third largest emirate in UAE.

Khaleej Times citing HH Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah reports that Sharjah will soon have air-conditioned walkways, a first-of-its kind in the country, to beat the five months of intense summer heat that prevents people from being active and causing obesity in the northern emirate. "We will have the first, best air-conditioned walkways because during five months of the year, the temperatures are so high that people are unable to exercise," he stated. The emirate already has laid out rubber-paved paths to make it walker-friendly for the residents concluded the report.

Even better for Sharjah residents, ARADA - the UAE’s newest developer, has also launched Aljada, a master-planned destination covering over 2.2 square kilometers that is set to transform the future of Sharjah. Aljada is Sharjah’s largest ever mixed-use development project, and is ideally located on the last major plot of undeveloped land in the heart of the Emirate. In a first for the UAE, Aljada will contain two linear parks, each 2.2 kilometers long, that stretch the entire length of the project, helping to promote an active, healthy lifestyle and giving every resident the opportunity to enjoy lush green spaces only a few minutes’ walk away from their front door. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2025.

 

[1] Arabian Gazette reports on economic burden of NCD’s in GCC December 3, 2013 https://arabiangazette.com

 

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