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Salud Urbana én America Latina (SALURBAL) Project Launches Second Year in Guatemala

The SALURBAL team at their meeting in Antigua, May 2018

May 31, 2018

Members from the various country hubs and partner institutions of the Salud Urbana en America Latina (SALURBAL) project met May 16 through the 18th to launch the project's second year in Antigua, Guatemala. The event marked the third biannual meeting of SALURBAL, an initiative of the Urban Health Network for Latin America and the Caribbean. About 60 project members were in attendance, traveling locally from Guatemala, and from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and the United States. The productive three-day event concluded with a public symposium on Central American urban health policies and initiatives, with invited representatives from policy and international organizations. The Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP), a SALURBAL partner institution, hosted the meeting.

Working sessions, held during the first two days of the meeting, yielded fruitful discussions and allowed members to collaboratively plan for next steps. Groups spanned issues from data and methods to social and physical environments, food issues, mortality, and systems thinking. Broader presentations on each of SALURBAL's four aims supplemented the working sessions. In its first year, SALURBAL made great progress compiling and harmonizing data, defining research questions, identifying opportunities for policy evaluations, and conducting stakeholder outreach. For example, the team will soon have data on over 300 cities in the region for analyses on how characteristics such as urban design, organization, government, and environments influence health and health equity within and across cities.

One novel aspect of the meeting was the focus on engagement with government and policy actors, technical experts, civil society, and the scientific community. An outcome of the meeting was the preparation for the first Knowledge-to-Policy forum, to be held November 2018 at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Mexico. The event will explore strategies for integrating evidence into regional policies.

On the final day, SALURBAL hosted a public symposium with policy and technical speakers from the Pan American Health Organization, the International Council for Science, and INCAP. The symposium emphasized the value of ongoing communication and idea exchange between researchers and practitioners to improve urban health and sustainability.

The SALURBAL team will convene for its next biannual meeting in Oaxaca, Mexico in November 2018. The focus of the meeting will be to share progress and discuss how to translate findings into urban policies and programs.

Since April 2017, the SALURBAL project has brought together urban health researchers and practitioners from diverse countries and disciplines to examine links between Latin American urban environments and policies and health and environmental sustainability. SALURBAL is based at the Drexel University Urban Health Collaborative and includes a team spanning 10 institutions in Latin America and two partner universities in the U.S. Findings from the project will uncover the ways city environments and design affect health, as well as possible interactions between factors that could be both beneficial or harmful for health. Working with partners in international organizations and civil society, SALURBAL aims to generate and translate knowledge into actionable steps that policymakers and other decisionmakers can take to build cities that are healthier, more equitable, and more environmentally sustainable.