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Urban Health in Latin America (SALURBAL) Project Enters its Third Year with a Biannual Meeting and Policy Symposium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil 

Belo Horizonte Group Photo

May 29, 2019

Nearly every aspect of an urban environment—the way streets connect to each other, the number of parks and trees, the extent to which residents trust and feel connected to their neighbors, among many others-- can impact health of city residents and environmental sustainability in important ways. Human activity in cities can also impact environmental sustainability as much as urban environments can impact human health.

Now entering its third year, the Urban Health in Latin America (Salud Urbana en América Latina or “SALURBAL”) project is generating new knowledge of the complex relationships between urban social, physical, and natural environments and health, contributing insights to the fields of urban and planetary health under Wellcome Trust’s “Our Planet, Our Health” initiative. Since April of 2017, researchers have been studying how these relationships might differ within and across cities and what types of policies might be most effective at improving health outcomes, health equity, and environmental sustainability.

The project is based at the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative and is implemented under the leadership of Principal Investigator Dr. Ana Diez Roux, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology at the Dornsife School of Public Health.

The SALURBAL team held its biannual meeting in Belo Horizonte, Brazil on May 22-23, 2019. Following the meeting, the team implemented a policy symposium that was open to the public focused on the topic of housing and neighborhood interventions on May 24. Both events were hosted by the project’s headquarters in Brazil, the Belo Horizonte Observatory for Urban Health at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).

The Meeting

The two-day meeting brought together 75 SALURBAL team members from seven countries in Latin America and the US. The meeting provided space and time for SALURBAL collaborators to discuss their research face to face, allowing them to advance more efficiently towards answering important research questions on urban and planetary health topics. While the team holds frequent videoconference meetings to discuss their work, SALURBAL’s bi-annual in-person meetings allow for unique and important opportunities to connect, network, and make progress. On the first day of the meeting, participants heard updates on the status of SALURBAL’s large data set, which incorporates health, mortality, physical environment, and social environment data from 371 cities of 100,000 or more inhabitants. Learn more about SALURBAL data.

On the second day of the meeting, participants heard updates on several studies that are currently underway, including:

In addition to hearing updates on SALURBAL data and ongoing studies, throughout the two days participants had the opportunity to gather in small working groups to brainstorm new ideas, develop new research questions, and work to resolve data and analytical issues. A few of the topics discussed by the small groups included urban scaling, maternal and child health, green space and health, urban food environments, transportation and health, and socioeconomic segregation.  

The Policy Symposium 

The day after the research team meeting, SALURBAL hosted a policy symposium titled “Health, housing and urban policies in Brazil” at UFMG´s School of Medicine. The symposium highlighted the importance of understanding the impact of housing and urban interventions in Brazil on health outcomes, presented SALURBAL’s ongoing work to evaluate such interventions, and encouraged debate among the speakers. At the event, SALURBAL launched its latest policy brief, Planning Health Evaluations of Housing and Neighborhood Interventions. 

Invited speakers for the symposium included external stakeholders involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of urban interventions who provided important insight and perspective on this topic:

  • Claudio Stenner, Geography Coordinator and Geosciences Director at the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics
  • Claudius Vinícius Leite Pereira, Director and President of the Belo Horizonte Urbanization Company and President of the Municipal Housing Council
  • Rosana Denaldi, Associate Professor, Center for Engineering, Modeling and Applied Social Sciences, Territory Planning and Management Program, Federal University of ABC
  • Bernardo Lanza Quieroz, Associate Professor, Department of Demography, Center for Development and Regional Planning, Faculty of Economic Sciences

The SALURBAL research team will meet again in Lima, Peru in October of this year. Learn more about SALURBAL’s upcoming events.

More information on SALURBAL and its activities can be found at: