SHARJAH -- Sharjah has taken yet another historic step on the path to becoming the first Arab city to join the World Health Organisation s, WHO, Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, the Network.

Following the approval of H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of Sharjah Executive Council, to the Strategic Plan 2017-2020 proposed by the High Follow-Up Committee for Sharjah s Membership to the Network, the committee held its inaugural session on Thursday. It briefed and prepared all government entities and departments in the emirate for the responsibilities ahead.

The introductory session of the committee, held at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was presided over by Sheikh Salem bin Abdulrahman Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Ruler's Office, who also heads the committee. Heads of various Sharjah government entities and co-ordinators of the committee were also present at the meet.

Speaking on the occasion, Al Qasimi hailed the tremendous response to the initiative and the presence of Sharjah s various government entities at the opening session. He said it demonstrates the success of the strategic plan to make Sharjah a leading example of age-friendly cities in the region.

He emphasised that to facilitate communication and accelerate the implementation of the initiative, each government department has nominated a co-ordinator to work with the high committee and follow up on the implementation of the plan.

Presenting an overview of the goals of the Network, Ahmad Al Meil, Media Director at Sharjah Social Services Department, explained the steps taken by Sharjah as part of its preparations to join the Network.

Khamis Bashir, Head of Statistics at the Sharjah Department of Statistics and Community Development, talked about the initial evaluation process and Sharjah s achievement in meeting all the criteria for joining the Network Afaf Al Marri, Director of Sharjah Social Services Department, spoke about the strategic plan and steps that have been put into place to transform Sharjah into an age-friendly city.

Addressing the session through a video link, Dr. John Beard, Director of the Department of Ageing and Life Course at WHO, explained the whole concept of age-friendly cities and why investing in old people is important. He congratulated Sharjah on becoming the first Arab city to join the WHO Network in a remarkably short period of time.

Dr. Ala Alwan, Regional Director of WHO for the Eastern Mediterranean, discussed the need for modern cities to have a comprehensive strategy for the ageing population. He also complimented Sharjah on joining the Network.

Sharjah is the first Arab city among 414 major cities around the world and one of the two Middle Eastern cities the other one being Tehran to join the World Health Organisation s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.

Source: Emirates News Agency