Public Release: 

11th International Conference on Urban Health

Health experts from around the world will be descending on Manchester in the UK March 4-7 to discuss ways to improve the health of people who live in cities

University of Manchester

The city has been chosen to host The 11th International Conference on Urban Health following in the footsteps of Toronto, New York, Amsterdam, Nairobi and Vancouver which provides a platform for policymakers and researchers to brainstorm best-practice.

The proportion of people living in cities is projected to increase to 70 per cent by 2050 and the conference aims to help decision makers and medics respond to the large-scale health challenges affecting countries and communities worldwide. The theme for the conference is "Crossing boundaries: partnerships for global urban health" where health experts have invited professionals and citizens from across the globe to discuss how working together improves the wellbeing of urban residents.

Keynote speakers at the conference organised by The University of Manchester and Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC) include United States Assistant Secretary for Health Dr Howard Koh.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director of UCL Institute of Health Equity, will be discussing inequities and Professor Martin McKee CBE, Chair of the International Scientific Committee, will ask why are we remaining silent when there are "wicked" problems that need solving in urban public health. Professor John Watson, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, will discuss the problems we are now facing when drugs fighting TB do not work anymore.

Keynote speakers from the World Health Organisation include Dr Marie-Paul Kierny speaking on health services for all and Mr Alex Ross will reflect on the past for lessons cities need to learn for future progress.

Other topics on the agenda at the three-day event include: policymaking and political leadership; humanitarian conflict and response, mental health, climate change, urban planning and architecture, stress in the city, healthy cities - including reducing tobacco and reducing use of cars and promoting active travelling such as cycling and walking, lifestyle and wellbeing - cancer, obesity and diabetes; stratified medicine (identifying and developing treatments that are effective for particular groups of patients), drugs; and engaging with the public about how to look after your health.

The conference runs from March 4-7 at Manchester Central Convention Centre and comes hot on the heels of the city hosting the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo 2014, the first time the event has ever been held outside London. The NHS Expo will culminate with a dinner hosted by University of Manchester Vice-President and MAHSC Director Professor Ian Jacobs at Manchester Museum's Living Worlds Gallery expected to be attended by UK Government health ministers.

Professor Jacobs said: "These two high-profile events show that Manchester is helping to lead the way in shaping health policy and improving treatments for patients. The conference will bring people together from across the world to consider the challenges that we face in urban health and in many other aspects of health and to come up with new ideas and work collaboratively.

"I hope that the many ideas that we have developed and applied here in Manchester will be relevant to the influential experts who attend the conference and that we will learn a lot from what is being done in other parts of the world too.

"I am delighted that Dr Koh will be attending the meeting and adding such high level US government and healthcare involvement. This reflects the outstanding quality of the programme and the importance of the range of topics in public and urban health which will be addressed. The conference fits perfectly with the objective of MAHSC (Manchester Academic Health Science Centre) to have a major impact on health science, education and care both regionally and internationally."

Dr Koh said he was looking forward to attending the conference and sharing solutions with his counterparts in Manchester. "Health starts in the community where people live, labour, learn, pray, and play," said Dr Koh. "By adopting a health in all policies approach, we can ensure residents will be able to achieve their full potential for health."

Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council and Chair of MAHSC, said Manchester offered the perfect platform for the high-profile global conference with both a rich public health history - Manchester was the birthplace of public health pioneer, Edwin Chadwick in 1800 - and a bright, exciting and vibrant future in terms of the innovation and opportunities for the city's residents, businesses, employers and visitors.

Sir Howard, who will officially open the conference with Professor Jacobs and conference-founder David Vlahov, said: "It is a great pleasure for the city to host this conference. I think it is particularly important that we do debate public health at conferences like this. We face some big challenges throughout the world, more and more people wanting to live in cities and what all of that represents in terms of challenges around sustainability and how we all respond to being a low carbon economy and more particularly what all of that means to health generally and public health in particular."

Conference organiser Dr Arpana Verma, from The University of Manchester's Institute of Population Health, said: "How we live, work and play in our cities is dependent on us all working together, crossing boundaries. More so now than ever before urban residents, workforce and employers are leading research, policy and interventions. Healthier cities can be achieved where wellbeing, equity and prosperity grows. Effective policies are at the heart of making cities better for citizens. The "public" are so often ignored from public health but ICUH 2014 will showcase the excellent work happening in our cities at international, national and local level."


For more information about the conference, please visit:

Tobacco Free Futures - Social enterprise who work with Manchester Council and North West local authorities to committed to tackling tobacco and helping smokers to quit in the North West will hold a flash dance to mark the opening of the conference in Piccadilly Gardens at 10.30am.

Journalists please contact Alison Barbuti | Media Relations Officer | Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences |The University of Manchester | Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre (MAHSC) Tel. +44 (0)161 275 8383 | Mobile 07887 561 318 |Email:

Notes to editors:

The 11th International Conference on Urban Health takes place at The Manchester Central Convention Centre, opening hours: 9.00am-5.30pm GMT

Ticket prices start from £350

The event is part funded through the generous support of the Hallsworth conference fund and cities@manchester. ICUH 2014 was co-organized with and supported by the World Health Organization Centre for Health Development (WHO Kobe Centre). It is sponsored by The University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC), Public Health England, European Public Health England and Visit Manchester.

History of ICUH

ICUH was founded in 2002 and is sponsored by The International Society for Urban Health (ISUH). The first ever ICUH was held in Toronto, Canada and was held annually in various cities around the world for 9 years, since 2011, however the event has taken place every other year. ISUH's aim is to hold the conference in a different global city every other year in order to broaden the reach of the society and the impact of its efforts.

The conference was started by David Vlahov, the founder of the International Society of Urban Health.

ICUH provides the ideal forum for knowledge exchange for urban health stakeholders attracting multidisciplinary scientists, practitioners, development partners and various national and regional senior policymakers from around the world. With the ultimate goal to mobilise and energise like-minded professionals, ICUH will address the effects of urbanisation and urban environments on the health of urban populations.

The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester, a member of the Russell Group, is one of the largest and most popular universities in the UK. It has 20 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance. According to the results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, The University of Manchester is one of the country's major research institutions, rated third in the UK in terms of 'research power'. The University has an annual income of £807 million and is ranked 40th in the world and fifth in the UK for the quality of its teaching and impact of its research.

MAHSC (the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre) is a partnership between the University of Manchester and six NHS organisations. Our NHS partners are some of the most highly rated NHS Trusts in the country, and The University of Manchester is one of the top three UK research universities (RAE 2008). We are proud to be one of only five centres in the country designated as an AHSC. AHSC designation recognises excellence across research, innovation, education and patient service, and in particular the potential to excel in translational medicine. Through partnership with the GM AHSN, MAHSC acts as a beacon within the local health system, providing clinical leadership and helping health care organisations reap the benefits of research and innovation to drive improvements in care.

The MAHSC partners are:

  • The University of Manchester
  • Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust
  • Salford CCG (formerly NHS Salford) as lead representative for GM CCGs
  • Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust

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