Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 9

Urban Health Related Abstracts

9 The Effects of Information Technology in Urban Health

Authors: Goli Arji, Safdari Reza, Zahmatkeshan Maryam


Background and Aim: Urban health is one of the challenges of the 21st century. Rapid growth and expanding urbanization have implications for health. In this regard, information technology can remove a large number of modern cities’ problems. Therefore, the present article aims to study modern information technologies in the development of urban health. Materials and Methods:. This is a review article based on library research and Internet searches on valid websites such as Science Direct, Magiran, Springer and advanced searches in Google. Some 164 domestic and foreign texts were studied on such topics as the application of ICT tools including cell phones and wireless tools, GIS, and RFID in the field of urban health in 2011. Finally, 30 sources were used. Conclusion: Information and communication technologies play an important role in improving people's health and enhancing the quality of their lives. Effective utilization of information and communication technologies requires the identification of opportunities and constraints, and the formulation of appropriate planning principles with regard to social and economic factors together with preparing the technological, communication and telecommunications, legal and administrative infrastructures.

Keywords: Information Technology, Technology, Urban Health, Information & Communication

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8 Transport Emission Inventories and Medical Exposure Modeling: A Missing Link for Urban Health

Authors: Frederik Schulte, Stefan Voß


The adverse effects of air pollution on public health are an increasingly vital problem in planning for urban regions in many parts of the world. The issue is addressed from various angles and by distinct disciplines in research. Epidemiological studies model the relative increase of numerous diseases in response to an increment of different forms of air pollution. A significant share of air pollution in urban regions is related to transport emissions that are often measured and stored in emission inventories. Though, most approaches in transport planning, engineering, and operational design of transport activities are restricted to general emission limits for specific air pollutants and do not consider more nuanced exposure models. We conduct an extensive literature review on exposure models and emission inventories used to study the health impact of transport emissions. Furthermore, we review methods applied in both domains and use emission inventory data of transportation hubs such as ports, airports, and urban traffic for an in-depth analysis of public health impacts deploying medical exposure models. The results reveal specific urban health risks related to transport emissions that may improve urban planning for environmental health by providing insights in actual health effects instead of only referring to general emission limits.

Keywords: Transport emissions, Urban Health, emission inventories, exposure models

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7 Comparative Ethnography and Urban Health: A Multisite Study on Obesogenic Cities

Authors: Carlos Rios Llamas


Urban health challenges, like the obesity epidemic, need to be studied from a dialogue between different disciplines and geographical conditions. Public health uses quantitative analysis and local samples, but qualitative data and multisite analysis would help to better understand how obesity has become a health problem. In the last decades, obesity rates have increased in most of the countries, especially in the Western World. Concerned about the problem, the American Medical Association has recently voted obesity as a disease. Suddenly, a ‘war on obesity’ attracted scientists from different disciplines to explore various ways to control and even reverse the trends. Medical sciences have taken the advance with quantitative methodologies focused on individual behaviors. Only a few scientist have extended their studies to the environment where obesity is produced as social risk, and less of them have taken into consideration the political and cultural aspects. This paper presents a multisite ethnography in South Bronx, USA, La Courneuve, France, and Lomas del Sur, Mexico, where obesity rates are as relevant as urban degradation. The comparative ethnography offers a possibility to unveil the mechanisms producing health risks from the urban tissue. The analysis considers three main categories: 1) built environment and access to food and physical activity, 2) biocultural construction of the healthy body, 3) urban inequalities related to health and body size. Major findings from a comparative ethnography on obesogenic environments, refer to the anthropological values related to food and body image, as well as the multidimensional oppression expressed in fat people who live in stigmatized urban zones. At the end, obesity, like many other diseases, is the result of political and cultural constructions structured in urbanization processes.

Keywords: Biopolitics, Urban Health, comparative ethnography, obesogenic cities

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6 A Settlement Strategy for Health Facilities in Emerging Countries: A Case Study in Brazil

Authors: Domenico Chizzoniti, Monica Moscatelli, Letizia Cattani, Piero Favino, Luca Preis


A settlement strategy is to anticipate and respond the needs of existing and future communities through the provision of primary health care facilities in marginalized areas. Access to a health care network is important to improving healthcare coverage, often lacking, in developing countries. The study explores that a good sanitary system strategy of rural contexts brings advantages to an existing settlement: improving transport, communication, water and social facilities. The objective of this paper is to define a possible methodology to implement primary health care facilities in disadvantaged areas of emerging countries. In this research, we analyze the case study of Lauro de Freitas, a municipality in the Brazilian state of Bahia, part of the Metropolitan Region of Salvador, with an area of 57,662 km² and 194.641 inhabitants. The health localization system in Lauro de Freitas is an integrated process that involves not only geographical aspects, but also a set of factors: population density, epidemiological data, allocation of services, road networks, and more. Data were collected also using semi-structured interviews and questionnaires to the local population. Synthesized data suggest that moving away from the coast where there is the greatest concentration of population and services, a network of primary health care facilities is able to improve the living conditions of small-dispersed communities. Based on the health service needs of populations, we have developed a methodological approach that is particularly useful in rural and remote contexts in emerging countries.

Keywords: Healthcare, Rural, Urban Health, settlement strategy

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5 Impact of Rapid Urbanization on Health Sector in India

Authors: Madhvi Bhayani


Introduction: Due to the rapid pace of urbanization, the urban health issues have become one of the significant threats to future development in India. It also poses serious repercussions on the citizen’s health. As urbanization in India is increasing at an unprecedented rate and it has generated the urban health crisis among the city dwellers especially the urban poor. The increasing proportion of the urban poor and vulnerable to the health indicators worse than the rural counterparts, they face social and financial barriers in accessing healthcare services and these conditions make human health at risk. The Local as well as the State and National governments are alike tackling with the challenges of urbanization as it has become very essential for the government to provide the basic necessities and better infrastructure that make life in cities safe and healthy. Thus, the paper argues that if no major realistic steps are taken with immediate effect, the citizens will face a huge burden of health hazards. Aim: This paper attempts to analyze the current infrastructure, government planning, and its future policy, it also discusses the challenges and outcomes of urbanization on health and its impact on it and it will also predict the future trend with regard to disease burden in the urban areas. Methods: The paper analyzes on the basis of the secondary data by taking into consideration the connection between the Rapid Urbanization and Public Health Challenges, health and health care system and its services delivery to the citizens especially to the urban poor. Extensive analyses of government census reports, health information and policy, the government health-related schemes, urban development and based on the past trends, the future status of urban infrastructure and health outcomes are predicted. The social-economic and political dimensions are also taken into consideration from regional, national and global perspectives, which are incorporated in the paper to make realistic predictions for the future. Findings and Conclusion: The findings of the paper show that India suffers a lot due to the double burden of rapidly increasing in diseases and also growing health inequalities and disparities in health outcomes. Existing tools of governance of urban health are falling short to provide the better health care services. They need to strengthen the collaboration and communication among the state, national and local governments and also with the non-governmental partners. Based on the findings the policy implications are then described and areas for future research are defined.

Keywords: Health Care, service delivery, Urbanization, Urban Health

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4 Split Health System for Diabetes Care in Urban Area: Experience from an Action Research Project in an Urban Poor Neighborhood in Bengaluru

Authors: T. S. Beerenahally, S. Amruthavalli, C. M. Munegowda, Leelavathi, Nagarathna


Introduction: In majority of urban India, the health system is split between different authorities being responsible for the health care of urban population. We believe that, apart from poor awareness and financial barriers to care, there are other health system barriers which affect quality and access to care for people with diabetes. In this paper, we attempted to identify health system complexity that determines access to public health system for diabetes care in KG Halli, a poor urban neighborhood in Bengaluru. The KG Halli has been a locus of a health systems research from 2009 to 2015. Methodology: The source of data is from the observational field-notes written by research team as part of urban health action research project (UHARP). Field notes included data from the community and the public primary care center. The data was generated by the community health assistants and the other research team members during regular home visits and interaction with individuals who self-reported to be diabetic over four years as part of UHARP. Results: It emerged during data analysis that the patients were not keen on utilizing primary public health center for many reasons. Patient has felt that the service provided at the center was not integrated. There was lack of availability of medicines, with a regular stock out of medicines in a year and laboratory service for investigation was limited. Many of them said that the time given by the providers was not sufficient and there was also a feeling of providers not listening to them attentively. The power dynamics played a huge role in communication. Only the consultation was available for free of cost at the public primary care center. The patient had to spend for the investigations and the major portion for medicine. Conclusion: Diabetes is a chronic disease that poses an important emerging public health concern. Most of the financial burden is borne by the family as the public facilities have failed to provide free care in India. Our study indicated various factors including individual beliefs, stigma and financial constraints affecting compliance to diabetes care.

Keywords: Urban Health, Quality Of Care, diabetes care, disintegrated health system

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3 Assessing Diagnostic and Evaluation Tools for Use in Urban Immunisation Programming: A Critical Narrative Review and Proposed Framework

Authors: Tim Crocker-Buque, Sandra Mounier-Jack, Natasha Howard


Background: Due to both the increasing scale and speed of urbanisation, urban areas in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) host increasingly large populations of under-immunized children, with the additional associated risks of rapid disease transmission in high-density living environments. Multiple interdependent factors are associated with these coverage disparities in urban areas and most evidence comes from relatively few countries, e.g., predominantly India, Kenya, Nigeria, and some from Pakistan, Iran, and Brazil. This study aimed to identify, describe, and assess the main tools used to measure or improve coverage of immunisation services in poor urban areas. Methods: Authors used a qualitative review design, including academic and non-academic literature, to identify tools used to improve coverage of public health interventions in urban areas. Authors selected and extracted sources that provided good examples of specific tools, or categories of tools, used in a context relevant to urban immunization. Diagnostic (e.g., for data collection, analysis, and insight generation) and programme tools (e.g., for investigating or improving ongoing programmes) and interventions (e.g., multi-component or stand-alone with evidence) were selected for inclusion to provide a range of type and availability of relevant tools. These were then prioritised using a decision-analysis framework and a tool selection guide for programme managers developed. Results: Authors reviewed tools used in urban immunisation contexts and tools designed for (i) non-immunization and/or non-health interventions in urban areas, and (ii) immunisation in rural contexts that had relevance for urban areas (e.g., Reaching every District/Child/ Zone). Many approaches combined several tools and methods, which authors categorised as diagnostic, programme, and intervention. The most common diagnostic tools were cross-sectional surveys, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, secondary analysis of routine data, and geographical mapping of outcomes, resources, and services. Programme tools involved multiple stages of data collection, analysis, insight generation, and intervention planning and included guidance documents from WHO (World Health Organisation), UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), USAID (United States Agency for International Development), and governments, and articles reporting on diagnostics, interventions, and/or evaluations to improve urban immunisation. Interventions involved service improvement, education, reminder/recall, incentives, outreach, mass-media, or were multi-component. The main gaps in existing tools were an assessment of macro/policy-level factors, exploration of effective immunization communication channels, and measuring in/out-migration. The proposed framework uses a problem tree approach to suggest tools to address five common challenges (i.e. identifying populations, understanding communities, issues with service access and use, improving services, improving coverage) based on context and available data. Conclusion: This study identified many tools relevant to evaluating urban LMIC immunisation programmes, including significant crossover between tools. This was encouraging in terms of supporting the identification of common areas, but problematic as data volumes, instructions, and activities could overwhelm managers and tools are not always suitably applied to suitable contexts. Further research is needed on how best to combine tools and methods to suit local contexts. Authors’ initial framework can be tested and developed further.

Keywords: Poverty, Health Equity, Urban Health, immunisation, low and middle-income countries

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2 HydroParks: Directives for Physical Environment Interventions Battling Childhood Overweight in Berlin, Germany

Authors: Alvaro Valera Sosa


Background: In recent years, childhood overweight and obesity have become an increasing and challenging phenomenon in Berlin and Germany in general. The highest shares of childhood overweight in Berlin are district localities within the inner city ring with lowest socio-economic levels and the highest number of migration background populations. Most factors explaining overweight and obesity are linked to individual dispositions and nutrition balances. Among various strategies, to target drinking behaviors of children and adolescents has been proven to be effective. On the one hand, encouraging the intake of water – which does not contain energy and thus may support a healthy weight status – on the other hand, reducing the consumption of sugar-containing beverages – which are linked to weight gain and obesity. Anyhow, these preventive approaches have mostly developed into individual or educational interventions widely neglecting environmental modifications. Therefore, little is known on how urban physical environment patterns and features can act as influence factors for childhood overweight. Aiming the development of a physical environment intervention tackling children overweight, this study evaluated urban situations surrounding public playgrounds in Berlin where the issue is evident. It verified the presence and state of physical environmental conditions that can be conducive for children to engage physical activity and water intake. Methods: The study included public playgrounds for children from 0-12 y/o within district localities with the highest prevalence of childhood overweight, highest population density, and highest mixed uses. A systematic observation was realized to describe physical environment patterns and features that may affect children health behavior leading to overweight. Neighborhood walkability for all age groups was assessed using the Walkability for Health framework (TU-Berlin). Playground physical environment conditions were evaluated using Active Living Research assessment sheets. Finally, the food environment in the playground’s pedestrian catchment areas was reviewed focusing on: proximity to suppliers offering sugar-containing beverages, and physical access for 5 y/o children and up to drinking water following the Drinking Fountains and Public Health guidelines of the Pacific Institute. Findings: Out of 114 locations, only 7 had a child population over 3.000. Three with the lowest socio-economic index and highest percentage of migration background were selected. All three urban situations presented similar walkability: large trafficked avenues without buffer bordering at least one side of the playground, and important block to block disconnections for active travel. All three playgrounds rated equipment conditions from good to very good. None had water fountains at the reach of a 5 y/o. and all presented convenience stores and/or fast food outlets selling sugar-containing beverages nearby the perimeter. Conclusion: The three playground situations selected are representative of Berlin locations where most factors that influence children overweight are found. The results delivered urban and architectural design directives for an environmental intervention, used to study children health-related behavior. A post-intervention evaluation could prove associations between designed spaces and children overweight rate reduction creating a precedent in public health interventions and providing novel strategies for the health sector.

Keywords: urban Design, Evaluation Research, Urban Health, children overweight, public playgrounds

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1 Stakeholder Engagement to Address Urban Health Systems Gaps for Migrants

Authors: A. Chandra, M. Arthur, L. Mize, A. Pomeroy-Stevens


Background: Lower and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Asia face rapid urbanization resulting in both economic opportunities (the urban advantage) and emerging health challenges. Urban health risks are magnified in informal settlements and include infectious disease outbreaks, inadequate access to health services, and poor air quality. Over the coming years, urban spaces in Asia will face accelerating public health risks related to migration, climate change, and environmental health. These challenges are complex and require multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder solutions. The Building Health Cities (BHC) program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to work with smart city initiatives in the Asia region. BHC approaches urban health challenges by addressing policies, planning, and services through a health equity lens, with a particular focus on informal settlements and migrant communities. The program works to develop data-driven decision-making, build inclusivity through stakeholder engagement, and facilitate the uptake of appropriate technology. Methodology: The BHC program has partnered with the smart city initiatives of Indore in India, Makassar in Indonesia, and Da Nang in Vietnam. Implementing partners support municipalities to improve health delivery and equity using two key approaches: political economy analysis and participatory systems mapping. Political economy analyses evaluate barriers to collective action, including corruption, security, accountability, and incentives. Systems mapping evaluates community health challenges using a cross-sectoral approach, analyzing the impact of economic, environmental, transport, security, health system, and built environment factors. The mapping exercise draws on the experience and expertise of a diverse cohort of stakeholders, including government officials, municipal service providers, and civil society organizations. Results: Systems mapping and political economy analyses identified significant barriers for health care in migrant populations. In Makassar, migrants are unable to obtain the necessary card that entitles them to subsidized health services. This finding is being used to engage with municipal governments to mitigate the barriers that limit migrant enrollment in the public social health insurance scheme. In Indore, the project identified poor drainage of storm and wastewater in migrant settlements as a cause of poor health. Unsafe and inadequate infrastructure placed residents of these settlements at risk for both waterborne diseases and injuries. The program also evaluated the capacity of urban primary health centers serving migrant communities, identifying challenges related to their hours of service and shortages of health workers. In Da Nang, the systems mapping process has only recently begun, with the formal partnership launched in December 2019. Conclusion: This paper explores lessons learned from BHC’s systems mapping, political economy analyses, and stakeholder engagement approaches. The paper shares progress related to the health of migrants in informal settlements. Case studies feature barriers identified and mitigating steps, including governance actions, taken by local stakeholders in partner cities. The paper includes an update on ongoing progress from Indore and Makassar and experience from the first six months of program implementation from Da Nang.

Keywords: Migration, Urban Health, informal settlements, stakeholder engagement mapping

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