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SALURBAL Research Presented at the Planetary Health Annual Meeting

2021 Planetary Health Annual Meeting and Festival

May 19, 2021

On April 25-30, 2021, SALURBAL team members attended the “Planetary Health Annual Meeting and Festival” organized by the Planetary Health Alliance in partnership with the University of São Paulo. This was the fourth annual meeting, and the first hosted in South America. Overall, 5,000 registrants from 130 countries engaged in the meeting with 59% of attendees coming from Latin America and other regions in the Global South.

The meeting’s theme was “Planetary Health for All: Bridging Communities to Achieve the Great Transition”, highlighting collective planetary health values; cross-pollinating planetary health knowledge, education, and technology; showcasing change-making science, stories, solutions, and communities; and building systemic solutions across economics, governance, and civil society. Over the five day program, activities included 84 speakers, 90 posters, 54 side sessions, 22 festival events, and 24 Science Lightning Talks.

Four SALURBAL team members were selected to present their research in the meeting:

Air Pollution and Infant Mortality in Latin American Cities

Ana Ortigoza presented evidence from 337 SALURBAL cities, where levels of annual average ambient PM2.5 were associated with increasing under-five and infant mortality. During the session, these findings led to the discussion about the implications the impact of air pollution on children’s health may have on decision- making in the region. To learn more, see the conference session and the research abstract.

Greenness and Dengue in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Yang Ju presented a research on vegetation quality and dengue incidence in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. This ecological study investigated whether vegetation greenness, a proxy for vegetation quality after controlling for vegetation quantity, has a protective effect on dengue incidence across 3,828 census tracts in Belo Horizonte. The results show that vegetation greenness has a marginal, statistically insignificant protective effect on dengue incidence after controlling for a comprehensive set of confounders. This is likely due to vector biology: the main dengue vector, Aedes aegypti, prefers to live close to humans than in vegetated areas. However, this protective effect is stronger in socioeconomically vulnerable census tracts. The results suggest that raising vegetation quality through vegetation management can be a viable strategy to reduce dengue risk, particularly in vulnerable areas of Belo Horizonte. To learn more, see the poster and abstract.

Health and Environmental Co-Benefits of Urban Form

Ione Avila-Palencia presented her research on health and environmental co-benefits of urban form. This ecological study investigated how city profiles are associated to health and environmental outcomes in Latin America cities. Some of the preliminary results showed that cities with higher fragmentation and lower isolation have worse environmental and health outcomes. Identifying how city profiles are related to environment and health outcomes can shed light on the urban policies that could have the greatest environment and health co-benefits. To learn more, see the poster and abstract.

Greenness and Health Inequalities – “Equigenesis"

Mika Moran presented her research examining the potential of greenness to reduce health inequalities, often referred to as “the equigenesis hypothesis of green spaces”. This hypothesis was tested through an ecological analysis of 28 SALURBAL cities from nine countries. Counter to the equigenesis hypothesis, greener urban areas were found to have wider education inequalities in life-expectancy. These results call for future greening policies to make concerted efforts to ensure that unequal access to green spaces does not exacerbate existing health inequalities. To learn more, see the poster and abstract.

Hear more SALURBAL research updates at the upcoming virtual International Conference on Urban Health, on July 6, 7, and 8, 2021. Learn more and register.