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Mission and History

Mission

The Urban Health Network for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC-Urban Health) seeks to promote regional and multisectoral collaboration in order to generate evidence on the drivers of urban health and health equity and translate this evidence into policies to improve health across cities in Latin America and the Caribbean. LAC-Urban Health works to achieve its mission through:

  • stimulating policy-relevant research on the state and drivers of health in cities of Latin American and the Caribbean;

  • communicating insights and findings to policymakers, researchers, the private sector, civil society, and the public to contribute to ongoing dialogue and policy agendas;

  • supporting the development of sustainable research and training infrastructure;

  • promoting a vision of urban health that emphasizes links between social, natural, and physical environments and the role of policies outside of the health sector;

  • sharing insights across the globe.

History

The network was first convened by the Dornsife School of Public Health of Drexel University in September 2015. The United Nations University Institute for Global Health and the Economic Commission for Latin Americana and the Caribbean agreed to co-sponsor the network for the first three years. Since its founding, LAC-Urban Health has convened periodically to share research results and explore training and other collaborative opportunities. A network team developed the Salud Urbana en América Latina (SALURBAL) project, which has made many network foundational aims a reality. Through SALURBAL and other activities, LAC-Urban Health supports members as they develop research, training, and dissemination.

Network activities are organized around nine guiding principles:

  • DESCRIBE the state of urban health in Latin America and the Caribbean by comparing cities over time and across countries

  • UNDERSTAND the processes of urbanization (and its potential health consequences), placing it in the historical, social, economic, and political contexts of the region

  • EMPHASIZE the multidimensional nature of urban health, its roots in social, economic, political, and environmental factors, and the need to develop integrated solutions to health challenges that span multiple sectors

  • IDENTIFY and ADDRESS inequities in health both within and across cities

  • PROMOTE training and mentorship within the network and INVEST in capacity building

  • APPLY diverse methodologies, including quantitative, qualitative, and historical analyses, as well as the evaluation of natural experiments and systems modelling

  • EVALUATE a range of policies in cities in Latin America and the Caribbean to gain knowledge on their health impacts and to learn about the drivers of urban health in general

  • VALUE place-centered approaches to urban health and the role of place-based policies, programs, and interventions

  • SUPPORT partnerships between researchers, decision-makers, and communities, and a new way of thinking about the links between research and action