For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Latin American Urban Health Video Explores How Every Sector has a Stake in Health

March 6, 2018

By: Adriana Lein

The ways in which cities are designed, organized, and governed have important implications for health, well-being, and sustainability. The Urban Health Network for Latin America and the Caribbean created a video to explore these themes and more in the context of urbanization in Latin America. The video, Health in Cities: Lessons from Latin America, is a primer on urban health and the many ways public policies and planning decisions can shape healthier cities. The video was produced by the Salud Urbana en América Latina (SALURBAL) project and will be used in outreach efforts to engage with policymakers and other decision-makers to raise awareness around the health impacts of decisions and planning across different sectors and levels of governance.

The video is a mix of interviews with urban health and policy experts from around the region, woven with clips of innovation and urban life. Featured in the video are Olga Lucia Sarmiento Dueñas, MD, PhD, MPH (Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia), Waleska Teixeira Caiaffa, MD, PhD, MPH (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerias, Brazil), Marcio Alazraqui, MD, PhD, MPH (Universidad Nacional de Lanús, Argentina), and Ana Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH (Drexel University, USA). The video's narrative tells the story of Latin America's cities as the stage for some of the greatest challenges in population health and social progress. As the audio in Spanish and Portuguese suggests, Latin America is home to incredibly diverse people, cultures, and countries. Amid this diversity, there exists great variation in demographics, socioeconomic backgrounds, opportunities, and outcomes.The region has been particularity transformed in recent years under the political and economic effects of globalization, the most immediate of which being wide-scale urbanization. 

This diversity might prove to be the region’s greatest strength; variations in outcomes and equity across and within cities can offer explanations and insight into the drivers of these differences.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the video is that when it comes to health in cities, every sector has a stake. Transportation interventions can lead to improved connectivity and efficiency, making neighborhoods more walkable, improving safety, and reducing violence. Housing and neighborhood development programs can improve living standards, lessening disease prevalence and boosting mental health. Support to empower communities helps to mitigate many of the social and structural determinants of health and well-being. 

In many ways, the Latin America region is on the forefront of policies and programs that integrate social and economic assistance to target the many dimensions of inequity. These packaged interventions bring co-benefits for social inclusion, economic empowerment, population health, and environmental sustainability. As the world continues to undergo rapid scale urbanization, the innovation and policy response of Latin America's cities is an example for other parts of the world in similar situations, such as the countries in Africa and Asia.