The International Conference on Urban Health (ICUH) is an annual event organized by the International Society for Urban Health . The city chosen to host the 15th edition, from November 26th to 30th of 2018, was Kampala, capital and largest city of Uganda. The goal of ICUH is to bring together researchers and stakeholders from various fields of work and countries to discuss urban health, which is seen as a priority to reach sustainable development around the world.
HUM Project presented some preliminary results of the research through the poster entitled “SPATIAL INEQUALITY IN BRAZIL: RELATIONS BETWEEN URBAN DESIGN, MOBILITY, AND HEALTH”. The work received positive feedbacks, especially concerning the substantial sample number and the efforts made to integrate quantitative and qualitative results and translate them in a meaningful and relevant way.
URBAN HEALTH RESEARCH AND WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM AFRICA
APHRC’s researchers presented the main urban health problems faced in African cities. Many studies are focused on air quality and consequences of poor public sanitation, but in the last few years, other issues are also being addressed, such as the rise of non-communicable diseases and obesity, this one particularly prominent among women. Urbanization, as well as in other continents, has led to an increase of motorized vehicles’ usage and a decrease of daily physical activity. Walking around Kampala it’s possible to notice the significant amount of motorcycles and the lack of adequate infrastructure for pedestrians. Along the many roads that connect the city, it’s common not to see sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, and public lights.
APHRC’s vast experience in urban health’s research generated interesting reports that dialogue with the work HUM Project has been producing. It was highlighted that the challenges perceived by population are sometimes different from what researcher consider a priority, especially in communities used to poorer living situations. Furthermore, cultural expectations can affect the findings, as it happens in the case of under notified answers about sensitive issues. To sum up, they said it’s necessary to work to overcome incompatibilities between academic research and the main interesting part in solutions for the problems detected: the population. To do so, APRHC recognizes the importance of the quality collection of data at local level and recommend the identification of local stakeholders to establish good communication between the studies done and the possible actions to generate real impact in people’s life.
UN-HABITAT AND THE INTEGRATION BETWEEN HEALTH AND URBAN PLANNING
During the UN-Habitat’s workshop, the main message was: It’s necessary to discuss health out of the health sector. And it’s possible to address health through urban planning.
The occasion was to present the International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning, approved in 2015 by the UN-Habitat Governing Council. During the 15th ICUH also happened the launch of a new publication called “Compendium of inspiring practices: health edition” (2018), a collection of 20 urban and territorial planning projects from cities all over the world showing the use of those guidelines and how they explicitly contribute to human health through the improvement of the built and natural environment.
After a preliminary questionnaire about how the different fields of studies were represented in the workshop’s audience (urban planning, health sector or others), it was proposed a practical exercise in which all participants were split into 3 groups: national level, city level, and neighborhood level. Each group had to create an urban project that positively affect population’s health and had also to think how the expertise of each member of the group could help to turn it to action. Finally, the groups should list which professionals or actors were missing to accomplish that.
The result was a thought-provoking debate about finding the “entry points” for health in urban planning and urban policies. Un-Habitat intends to produce normative guidance to approximate these two sectors and create a common language to enable the integrated work.
The HUM Project faced this challenge since the beginning of the research, putting together researchers from both sectors to study Healthy Urban Mobility. Keep following our posts to learn more about what we have found.
*Text by Luísa Silveira, HUM Project’s researcher.