The World Health Organization (WHO) has joined hands with the Jameel Arts & Health Lab to embark on a pioneering research collaboration aimed at exploring the profound impact of the arts on human health.
Announced during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), this initiative builds upon the 2019 WHO report, which highlighted the essential role of the arts in enhancing health and well-being.
The Vital Connection Between Arts and Health:
The WHO report emphasized the arts’ ability to contribute to good health, health equity, illness prevention, and the treatment of various conditions throughout an individual’s life. From dance programs for Parkinson’s Disease patients to music therapy for pain management and drama therapy for social-emotional development, the arts have proven to be a powerful ally in the pursuit of holistic well-being.
Breaking Down Silos:
Sir Jeremy Farrar, Chief Scientist at the WHO, stressed the need to unite science and the arts, viewing them not as separate entities but as catalysts for innovation and healing. This collaboration seeks to bridge the gap between these two domains and demonstrate the scientific basis of the arts’ role in health and well-being.
Focus on Noncommunicable Diseases:
The research series will primarily concentrate on noncommunicable diseases, which remain a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. It aims to raise awareness of existing evidence and provide recommendations for enhancing global policy guidance. These recommendations include scaling up interventions through social prescribing and fostering intersectoral collaboration among the arts, health, education, and social care sectors.
Holistic Health and Well-Being:
In a post-COVID-19 world, where cultural expressions fostered hope and connection, the arts’ role in health has gained prominence. The WHO’s Christopher Bailey emphasized the holistic approach to health, focusing on physical, mental, and social well-being. Beyond symptom reduction, the arts play a crucial role in helping individuals cope, achieve their potential, and contribute actively to their communities.
The Path Ahead:
The Jameel Arts & Health Lab – Lancet global series was officially announced during the WHO75 Wellbeing Concert and Reception at Carnegie Hall during UNGA Healing Arts Week. The series involves over 50 researchers from universities worldwide and is expected to be published in late 2024.
As the world recognizes the profound connection between the arts, culture, and health, this collaboration between WHO and the Jameel Arts & Health Lab paves the way for groundbreaking research that will underline the arts’ significance in promoting holistic well-being. By emphasizing the role of the arts in improving health and well-being, this initiative strives to reshape global perspectives on health and foster a future where the arts are essential contributors to health and happiness.