Environmental improvements can make a significant impact on the health of urban populations in low- and middle-income countries, even in countries with large income disparities and other challenges, according to a study led by researchers at Georgia State University.
Researchers used the Urban Health Index, an assessment tool developed at Georgia State in cooperation with the World Health Organization’s Kobe Center in Japan, to study 57 of the world’s capital cities.
The study considered various measures that are widely understood to impact population health, such as child vaccination rates for infectious diseases, women’s access to healthcare and understanding of how to prevent HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases, and environmental health factors. The authors concluded that the environmental variables stood out for their importance in identifying differences between large cities around the world and within large urban areas.
“In this analysis, a central water supply piped into homes, improved indoor sanitation, and avoidance of indoor solid cooking fuels substantially improved the Urban Health Index for many cities,” the authors wrote.
“For cities in low- and middle-income countries, our findings imply that some of the most important pathways to better health and well-being are through improvements in household level environmental conditions of the poor, a significant proportion of whom live in informal settlements.”
Dr. Christine Stauber, an associate professor at the Georgia State University School of Public Health, was the lead author of the paper “Measuring the Impact of Environment on the Health of Large Cities” published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Co-authors were Dr. Ellis Adams, of Georgia State’s Global Studies Institute; Dr. Dajun Dai, of Georgia State’s Department of Geosciences; Dr. Richard Rothenberg, Dr. Ruiyan Luo, Dr. Scott Weaver and John Heath, all of Georgia State’s School of Public Health; Mr. Amit Prasad of the World Health Organization Department of Information, Evidence and Research, and Dr. Megumi Kano of the World Health Organization Kobe Center.