On October 14th, the last WHO webinar of the reINVENT & reBUILD webinar series titled: unlock the impact of more active societies, took place. During the webinar the WHO officially launched its new advocacy brief Fair Play: Building a strong physical activity system for more active people.
In her opening remarks, Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Deputy Director General, spoke of the importance of regular physical activity for everyone, every day. The pandemic has further highlighted the importance of exercise for physical and mental health, which is why promoting physical activity is of utmost importance. Dr Naoko Yamamoto, WHO Assistant Director General, also talked about the role of physical activity as part of the health sector. Although the pandemic brought many challenges, it has emphasised the importance of physical activity for everyone’s health and wellbeing.
Subsequently, Ms Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director General, talked about the role of physical activity in tackling three ongoing public health threats: the pandemic, mental health issues, and the current levels of physical inactivity. She explained that UNESCO is currently developing work on data collection to further demonstrate the role of exercise in building better societies, as part of their Fit for Life initiative.
Dr Fiona Bull, Head of the WHO Physical Activity Unit, went on to officially launch the advocacy brief on Fair Play: Building a strong physical activity system for more active people. COVID-19 has shown that physical activity is a must-have, and it is a win for several policy areas: the economy, environment, health and societies. She added that we can do better, and this advocacy brief specifically aims to further encourage all stakeholders to work together to achieve more.
A panel composed of representatives of national and local authorities, NGOs, and the industry, then discussed the role of physical activity in societies and how to promote it more. The importance of sustainable investments and of collaboration was particularly considered, with panellists highlighting that investment in sport and physical activity has an excellent return on investment and is a cost-saver investment in the long-term, as it will lead to healthier populations.
In her concluding remarks, Dr Fiona Bull explained that now is a moment of opportunity. The pandemic has created the change, and we want to capitalise on it. There are many things to be done, such as focusing on sustainable resources, strengthening regulatory and governance frameworks, and encouraging all stakeholders to be involved. She explained that a register of commitments will be launched in December, in which organisations will be able to explain how they will contribute to achieve these objectives. This advocacy brief is a call for change, to address the priorities of today. We can do better together.