This report, with the presentations, videos and other materials from the conference, posted on the City Health International website, together make up the legacy of the City Health 2013 conference. The website can be found at:

A downloadable PDF version of this report can be found here: Health 2013 - Report.pdf

The Organisers

City Health 2013 was hosted by Turning Point Scotland (TPS) and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO). The hosts were supported in the production of the conference by Knowledge Action Change (KAC) and Esprit de Bois (EdB).

The Context

The theme for this second City Health conference - “creating healthy places for healthy futures” - was selected to enable the examination of current policy and practice in relation to public health and wellbeing in cities, along with consideration of the future challenges for developing and sustaining healthy cities and a healthy public.

The location provided a fascinating backdrop for the conference. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has so far failed to shake off the unwelcome tag “the sick man of Europe”. Thirty per cent of adults in Glasgow smoke; rates of drug related deaths are double the Scottish average; alcohol-related deaths are the highest in Scotland and two-thirds of adults in Glasgow are obese. Against this backdrop Scotland has a solid tradition and reputation for academic excellence in the field of public health, demonstrated by the many excellent contributions from local presenters, within a programme that reflected an interest in the issues of concern in urban health from across the globe.

The links between deprivation and health are profound, well researched and beyond dispute. With Glasgow due to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the excitement and optimism this brings, it was also important to take stock of this and to examine what might be happening in other places and how this might be applicable in the local context.

The Conference

The conference took place at the Glasgow Science Centre and featured a wide and varied programme of plenary (4) and parallel sessions (10). The focus of the programme was the factors that can facilitate or impede the goal of creating healthy urban populations – structural and behavioural. The topics included issues such as migration, equality in health, housing, home and health, drugs, alcohol and sexual health – including HIV in the urban context – the impact of violence, investing in the future, urban health mapping and looking at what makes for good health governance in the local, national and international context. The full programme can be viewed on the website

Speakers included academics, politicians, policy makers and practitioners, with each session designed to explore commonalities between problems identified and potential synergies in responses to them. Two-thirds of the speakers were from Scotland, 16% from other parts of the UK and 21% from other countries, including Australia, France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and USA .

Due to visa issues and other unforeseen events a further 3 international speakers, from Iran, Pakistan and Russia, were unable to take part in the conference. However at short notice the organisers were in the main able to replace these speakers with alternative people and this helped keep the programme comprehensive and interesting.

The programme also included a public lecture, delivered by Professor Michel Kazatchkine, UN Special Envoy on HIV and AIDS for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which was followed by a civic reception for delegates, hosted by Bailie Philip Braat, who assists the Lord Provost’s office in welcoming visitors to the city.

In the final session there was also the presentation of the Paolo Pertica Award, to Dr Mohamad Shahbazi, from Iran, in recognition of his work developing HIV peer education in prisons in Iran [1].

The hub of the conference included an exhibition area, where some 25 exhibitors, comprising both commercial and NGOs, provided delegates with an opportunity to learn about products and projects related to urban health. The area also served to provide a networking space for delegates, with food and refreshments also provided there.

The organisers are grateful to the efforts of the members of the Programme Committee [2] for the conference, lead by Professor Gerry Stimson, for their work in helping shape the conference.

Attendance and Feedback

To promote the conference we used our existing networks and databases and extended the scope via colleagues within public health generally.

Two hundred and forty people took part in the conference over the two days, with 23 members of the public adding to the numbers for the public lecture. Seventy-three per cent of those attending came from Scotland, with 14% from other parts of the UK and the remaining 13% from other countries [3].

In terms of sectors represented by participants, 38% came from NGOs/voluntary sector, 27% from governmental/public sector organisations, 24% were academics and 10% were independents – including some from the private sector. In addition some 48% were involved in service delivery – including within health, social care, support and advocacy – and 21% concerned with policy.

Completed feedback forms were received from 43 participants (18% of the total of 240). Respondents were asked to rate a number of aspects of the conference (on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent). In addition other comments were also welcomed.

Regarding the programme there was an overall approval rating of 80% (very good/excellent) with a range of 57% to 100%. Respondents also rated bothoverall quality of the presentations and the quality of the programme overall at 91% (very good/excellent). In addition 88% believed the programme met their expectations almost entirely/entirely.

The comments respondents made on the programme were largely positive:

  • ‘The variety of experts in positions of authority was very impressive’.
  • ‘Speakers were knowledgeable, articulate and addressed relevant issues’.
  • ‘All excellent and wonderful so different and lots of thinking outside the box’.
  • ‘I am new to public health services and addictions and I thought this conference was excellent. It was more informative than I could have hoped for and the calibre of speaker was amazing!’
  • ‘Varied but cohesive enough, stout with information without overwhelming - a great balance, enjoyable in layman's terms (me) and for interested parties’.
  • ‘The speakers spoke about international issues to local issues that made the conference a well-rounded event with all subject matters having a context on the programme, well done’.
  • ‘The programme was very varied so there was something for everyone yet all the sessions linked under a common theme’.

Other comments related to issues that weren’t covered during the conference, but which might form part of future events:

  • ‘Given the emphasis on the growing urban population and the decline of rural populations, it is important to consider the impact of rural decline on city health - e.g. what use will be made of rural land - by whom, for what purposes etc. - rural decline could result in greater health inequity if urban (especially the poor) populations 'lose' the countryside, etc. There should be consideration of the importance of balance for urban health’.
  • ‘I think trying to bring Health, Housing and planning practitioners together for future conferences would help widen the discussions and debates’.
  • ‘More clinical medical information sessions and some insights into political processes which help/ obstruct progress.’
  • ‘Perhaps a little more on city governance arrangements and how they help or hinder healthy outcomes’.
  • ‘More on economic inequality and engaging with economic development colleagues’.

In terms of the overall organisation of the event, overall 83% rated as very good/excellent the conference website, registration, pre-conference and on-site administration and quality of delegate materials .

The venue and catering generated a mixed response. Most respondents (82%) rated the helpfulness of conference and venue staff as very good/excellent. Some 60% gave the space and layout a similar rating, with the quality of refreshments and lunch receiving less favourable ratings.

Overall 85% rated the conference as a whole very good/excellent value for money.

Some comments on the event overall included:

  • ‘The venue was a great backdrop, really enhanced the day’.
  • ‘The conference was very well organised and well run on both days. It was an enjoyable conference to attend’.
  • ‘It was an enlightening experience. The atmosphere might have been a little stronger if busier, but generally very impressive, international, informative and entertaining’.

Media Coverage

An important element for City Health conferences is media coverage, both for promotion and as part of the legacy for the events. This section gives examples of achievements in generating interest and coverage, together with links to articles where available.

City Health 2013 was light on hard “news” so relied more on the placement of comment and feature pieces in the lead into the event. The major “news” at the conference was Michel Kazatchkine´s statements on urbanisation and HIV points made in the memorial lecture. His status, as a UN Special Envoy also drew interest from local media. Reuters, who conducted an extensive interview with Michel prior to the event, carried this story.

It was picked up widely internationally in outlets, such as The Huffington Post and Fox News website in the US, as well as in English speaking newspapers in countries such Malaysia, Nigeria and South Africa. It also ran in Portuguese, French and Spanish in many other countries. Some examples:

The Huffington Post version of the story alone attracted some 350+ comments.

In general coverage was split between the more specialised health/medical press (The Lancet, British Medical Journal) and local press (Herald Scotland, The Scotsman, BBC Scotland, STV, Third Sector News).

David Stuckler’s closing keynote address also attracted a lot of interest, including a major piece in the Herald just prior to the conference.

Other coverage prior to the conference included:

  • October 24, 2013

    A podium comment piece in Third Force News, by Georgina Perry
  • November 1, 2013

    A comment piece in The Lancet, by Gerry Stimson
    Pieces during the conference included:

Post-conference there were a number of media items:

  • December 4, 2013

    An article in the Holyrood Magazine, about Erio Ziglio

Outputs from the Conference

In addition to the achievement in assembling an impressive combination of academics, policy makers, professionals and advocates to raise awareness of the importance of ‘joined-up’ thinking and action to address health behaviours in the urban context, the event also:

  • Provided a platform for Glasgow to demonstrate its achievements in the field of public health and to benchmark this against other locations.
  • Generated a large amount of media interest in the connectivity of issues under the urban health banner.
  • Provided valuable networking opportunities to further the development of City health International as an entity.

However the lasting legacy of the conference is the archive and legacy website - - where the programme, presentations, videos, photos and other materials generated by the conference can be accessed in perpetuity by both those who attended and others, making the learning from the event widely available.

Investment and Support

The organisers are grateful to the City of Glasgow, NHS Health Scotland, and the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit for their generous contributions towards costs and also to the World Bank for their continued financial support for the conference.

Thanks are also due to the many supporting organisations and exhibitors who also contributed to the event - including conference partners, London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum (LDAPF) Aids Foundation East West (the Netherlands) Glasgow Centre for Population Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Health Diplomats (Switzerland) ESVERO (Russia) UK Healthy Cities Network, International Doctors for Healthy Drug Policies, University of Glasgow, Frontier Medical Group and Public Health Perspectives (Nepal).

Financial contributions allowed us to:

  • be flexible in applying fees to delegates, offering complimentary places and reduced tariffs to individuals and organisations unable otherwise to attend. This principally applied to NGOs and public health students – including those from outside of the UK;
  • meet some of the costs of assembling an impressive cohort of speakers from around the globe, adding to the quality of the overall event;
  • develop the legacy for City Health 2013, including videos, presentations and other materials posted the website, which will so greatly assist us in taking the issues forward, engaging with a wider audience.

The Future for City Health

The next City Health conference will be held at the Casa 400 Hotel, in Amsterdam, 3/4 November 2014. Aids Foundation East West (AFEW) and the Trimbos Instituut will host the event.

[1] Unfortunately Dr Shahbazi was unable to attend in person due to visa difficulties

[2] Members included Joy Barlow, Martin Cawley, Linda de Caestecker, Anne Scoular, Anne Ellaway, Natalia Khodakevich, Karyn McCluskey, Gerry McLaughlin, Lucy McTernan, John Ryan, Anke van Dam and Russell Jones

[3] Including Australia, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland