Healthy News

WHO promotes health and well-being through arts and culture

As part of its healthy aging initiatives, the World Health Organization (WHO) reintroduced the concept of social prescribing in a brown bag session held at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Manila, Philippines, on 8 May 2024.

From the estimated 700 million older people aged 65 and above worldwide, almost 240 million live in the Western Pacific Region. The Region, which includes the Philippines, is now experiencing a growing aging population. Older individuals are more vulnerable to social isolation, loneliness, and health challenges.

Social prescribing enables health care providers to help older individuals and the public improve their health and well-being and address the root causes of health concerns through a range of community-based non-clinical services. Social prescribing is a person-centered health approach that integrates doses of arts and culture into a comprehensive care plan.

Art is increasingly recognized as a viable approach to managing and preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Art-related activities can be a low-risk, low-cost addition to health programs when used effectively. They promote a culture of health and care by encouraging behavioral changes in individuals and groups. This is the idea that guided the Brown Bag: Social Prescribing at the National Museum of Fine Arts attended by WHO workforce, Department of Health personnel, National Commission of Senior Citizens and partners from arts and cultural agencies.

Participants toured around the National Museum of the Philippines and learned more about the country’s rich culture and ancient health care practices through various pieces of art. (c) WHO Philippines

WHO has previously introduced the OpenWho Course that highlights the role of communities in improving health outcomes by addressing the social determinants of health or the non-medical factors that affect one’s overall health. It covers basic steps to introducing a social prescribing program and contains case studies from different countries in the Western Pacific Region that may be adapted to the local context.

“The intersection between art and health is very deep. A healthy and meaningful life needs culture–without art, color, and music, life becomes very dull. WHO needs to explore new ways of looking at the work of health professionals and we need to help people find meaning in life,” said Dr Susan Mercado, Program Management Director of WHO Western Pacific Region.

Back To Top