What can we learn from Latin American cities to make our own more healthy? Thanks to a new $12 million grant, an international team led by one of Drexel University’s deans will use the next five years to find out.
Dean Ana Diez Roux, Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health and Director of the Urban Health Collaborative at the school, led an interdisciplinary team that secured one of the Wellcome Trust’s Our Planet, Our Health initiative grants. The team will study how the governance, design, organization and environment of Latin American cities affect population health, as well as health inequities within cities. Importantly, the project also has a distinct focus on understanding the links between health and environmental sustainability of cities.
“This is critical because health and environmental sustainability are closely entwined,” Dean Diez Roux said. “This is because the environment affects health — for example, levels of air pollution and heat have especially strong health impacts in cities —but many of the things we can do to make people healthier, like promoting active travel and consumption of fruits and vegetables, also have favorable implications for the environment. We need to think of these things as synergistic, and that is a key goal of the project.”
Dean Diez Roux will lead an interdisciplinary team that spans 11 Latin American and 3 U.S. institutions. The project grew out of the previously established Urban Health Network For Latin America and the Caribbean, an initiative of the Dornsife School of Public Health co-sponsored by the United Nations University and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The researchers will study hundreds of cities located throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and partner with policy makers and other stakeholders throughout the region. The project is based at the Urban Health Collaborative in the Dornsife School of Public Health and includes Drexel investigators and a large international team of collaborators. It will create multiple opportunities for engagement of additional investigators, trainees, and stakeholders including policy makers.