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Dornsife Leads Creation of Network to Promote Urban Health Research and Policy in Latin American and the Caribbean

LAN Philadelphia 2015

October 28, 2015

Public health, city planners and policy experts in Latin America have a rich and robust history of creative, resourceful and impactful approaches to population health challenges in cities. To extend the reach and impact of successful approaches that have improved public health from Colombia to Chile, Dornsife Dean Ana Diez Roux convened an exploratory meeting of Latin American leaders from academia, urban design, public policy, government and urban health. The meeting was supported by the Dornsife School and the Office of International Programs.

Meeting on the eve of the School’s successful Urban Health Symposium, Reimagining Health In Cities, the Latin American group shared challenges and successful programs that could be replicated in cities near and far. 

For example, a recreation program started in Colombia twenty years ago converts city spaces into recreational areas and offers a variety of fun physical activities, from rumba to mixed martial arts. By closing down streets to create “recreovias” where kids, adults and elderly citizens could safely play and exercise, city residents report improved quality of life, as well as revitalized, safe and transformed city streets. 

Participants came from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, El Salvador and Colombia, representing universities and organizations including United Nations University, the Pan American Health Organization and the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. 

The group agreed to collectively work to stimulate new research and support ongoing research efforts, facilitate new collaborative training approaches, and work together to influence policy and decision makers. Together, the multifaceted group will approach problems like climate change, physical activity, urban design and built environment, urbanization, poverty, and segregation in unique ways. 

The network will be coordinated by the Dornsife School of Public Health, in partnership with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the United Nations University (UNU), co-founders of the initiative. A follow-up meeting is being planned to take place in Chile this winter, and infrastructure and collaborative tools are being established as the network prepares to grow.