2024/02/26 Leveraging the Healing Power of the Arts: WHO Report Explores Integration of Arts into Health System

Leveraging the Healing Power of the Arts: WHO Report Explores Integration of Arts into Health Systems for NCD Prevention and Treatment
The arts have long been celebrated for their ability to enrich lives, but emerging research suggests they hold even greater potential: aiding in the fight against noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), from cardiovascular issues to cancer. A recent report from WHO/Europe, drawing from insights shared at the "Learning from the Arts" conference in Budapest, outlines strategies for integrating arts into healthcare to supplement NCD treatment and prevention.
Evidence increasingly supports the use of arts as complementary to medical interventions, offering a non-invasive, low-risk approach. WHO/Europe is exploring this potential in the context of NCD prevention and treatment, crucial in a region where NCDs account for 90% of all deaths.
The report showcases diverse arts and health initiatives across the region. For instance, Madrid Salud project engages vulnerable groups in art events to raise awareness of NCD-related issues, while a project in Hungary integrates choir participation into respiratory illness rehabilitation. In Vologda, Russia, children's stories are reframed to enhance health literacy in schools.
Nils Fietje, Technical Officer at WHO/Europe's Behavioural and Cultural Insights Unit, notes a shift in healthcare attitudes, recognizing the tangible benefits of arts on health and well-being. Health systems are increasingly embracing social prescribing, recommending evidence-based art therapies that foster inclusivity and bridge culture with health.
Dr. Gauden Galea, WHO/Europe Strategic Adviser to the Regional Director, underscores the potential of integrating arts and health to enhance well-being and create healthier environments for all. As the world grapples with the burden of NCDs, the integration of arts into health systems offers a promising avenue for holistic care and healing. Through collaboration and innovation, the healing power of the arts can be harnessed to enrich lives and foster healthier communities.