Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Better urban planning is essential to improve health of the 60 percent of the global population that will be living in cities by 2030

From the 29 May 2012 EurekAlert

The proportion of the world’s population that lives in cities has been steadily rising, so that three in five of all people globally will live in a city by 2030. The University College London/LancetCommission on Healthy Cities explores the many issues other than health services that contribute to population health in a city environment.

The Commission has been prepared by lead author Professor Yvonne Rydin, UCL Bartlett School of Planning, and colleagues at UCL and worldwide. The authors address issues that apply globally and use specific examples from cities as diverse as London, Bogota, Accra, and Toronto to illustrate the issues.

Just as London’s first modern, large-scale, urban sewage treatment system resulted in a 15-year increase in life expectancy between the 1880s and the 1920s, so other large-scale planning initiatives can radically change the health outcomes of city-dwellers – especially for the poorest. In this report the authors recommend focussing on the delivery of a variety of urban projects that have a positive impact on health.

Examples from the report include community-led sanitation infrastructure programmes in the slums of Mumbai, India; action for urban greening to protect against heat stress in London summers; and transportation initiatives that encourage physical activity in Bogota, Colombia….

The Commission authors looked at cities as complex, interactive entities in which changes in one part of the system can have impacts on others. They use five case studies to illustrate important themes for healthy cities.

Each case study supports the argument for a new way of planning for urban health. Planners need to recognise that conditions of complexity make it difficult to capture all the necessary information about the links affecting urban health in one plan or strategy. Unintended consequences of policy action are likely to persist. Instead planners should be working with all urban health stakeholders, including local communities, particularly vulnerable communities.

Professor Rydin says: “There should be an emphasis on experimenting with and learning from diverse urban health projects. This can mean supporting communities in their own urban health projects, as with community latrines in Mumbai slums or urban food projects in London and Detroit.”

The Commission concludes with five recommendations:

  1. City governments should build political alliances for urban health.
  2. Governments need to identify the health inequalities in cities.
  3. Urban planners should include health concerns in their plans, regulations, and decisions.
  4. Policy makers need to recognise that cities are complex systems and urban health outcomes have multiple causes.
  5. Experimentation and learning through projects involving local communities is often the best way forward….

 

 

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May 31, 2012 - Posted by | environmental health | ,

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