New Book – Urban Health: Global Perspectives

May 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Urban Health: Global Perspectives, 2011.

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Authors:  David Vlahov,  Jo Ivey Boufford, Clarence Pearson

Table of Contents

1. Urban Health in a Global Perspective (David Vlahov and Jo Ivey Boufford).
2. Globalization (Ted Schrecker and Ronald Labonté).
3. The Demographics of Urbanization in Poor Countries (Mark R. Montgomery).
4. Migration, Health Systems, and Urbanization (Ndioro Ndiaye, Manuel Carbhallo, and Rougui Ndiaye-Coïc).
5. Immigrant Health in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Arnoud P. Verhoeff and Roel A. Coutinho).
6. City Case Studies: Global Climate Change and Cities (Tord Kjellstrom and Patricia Monge).
7. Age-Friendly New York City (Ruth Finkelstein and Julie Netherland).
8. Global Infectious Diseases and Urbanization (Thomas C. Quinn and John G. Bartlett).
9. City Case Studies: Confronting the New Epidemics in Our Cities (Stephen Leeder, Angela Beaton, Cathie Hull, Ruth Colagiuri, and Michael Ward).
10. Chronic Disease Care in Nairobi’s Urban Informal Settlements (Catherine Kyobutungi and Alex Ezeh).

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New Report Assesses Programs To Improve Life in Latin America’s Slums

May 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Regularization of Informal Settlements in Latin America looks at awarding titles, upgrading

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today one out of four urban residents in Latin America lives in a dwelling that does not have a legal title, or lacks urban services such as water and sanitation, or is constructed in a precarious location. Improving conditions in existing informal settlements and shantytowns in Latin American cities is a necessary and worthy goal, but the programs for “regularizing” these places have had mixed results so far, a new Lincoln Institute report says.

The two major approaches to regularization – legalizing parcels by awarding the occupants titles to the property as exemplified in Peru, and Brazil’s broader approach that combines titling with extensive upgrading of public services – both fall short of expectations. Titling by itself is relatively inexpensive but has not triggered neighborhood improvements, while upgrading is much more costly and can stimulate additional irregular development by those hoping to benefit from future upgrading.

The lack of revenue associated with regularization has inhibited the scaling up of such programs. Regularization programs can be more self-sustaining financially through property taxes and charges that capture some of the increases in land value caused by urban infrastructure and service improvements, according to Regularization of Informal Settlements in Latin America, the latest Policy Focus Report published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

“Customized, cost-effective, and sustainable approaches to upgrading have the potential to improve the lives of the many millions of people living in informal settlements,” said Gregory K. Ingram, president of the Lincoln Institute, “but regularization is a work in progress, and we need to learn more about what works.”

An estimated 127 million people in Latin American cities live in informal settlements, on public and private land, in many cases in neighborhoods that have existed for decades and physically resemble legal developments. Legal recognition is increasingly seen as the only realistic remedy for informal settlements, as evictions and massive relocations to new public housing are neither tolerated nor economically feasible in most countries.

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PBS – Pakistani Program Offers Affordable Health Insurance to Help Urban Poor

May 26, 2011 Leave a comment

May 23, 2011 – One program in Pakistan is attempting to combat urban poverty, the root of many Pakistanis’ problems, by providing affordable health insurance. Special correspondent Saima Mohsin reports from the nation’s largest city, Karachi.

An excerpt from the transcript: The private sector serves nearly 70 percent of Pakistan’s population. Yet, out of the estimated 40 million low-income families here, 99.3 percent of them don’t have health insurance.

The introduction of Naya Jeevan in Pakistan hopes to change that. This new program is simple and affordable for employers, sponsors and beneficiaries. The equivalent of just $2.50 a month provides access to private health care and, crucially, regular health checks for contagious or infectious diseases as a preventive measure for a country that is still battling polio, malaria and hepatitis.

And hundreds of local companies, restaurants and multinational corporations are signing up for the plan for their low-income employees.

Link to podcast, transcript and video:

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WHO country profiles on urban health

May 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Country profiles were developed for the purpose of visualizing urban health issues, especially focused on urban health inequity.

These profiles cover key information on urban health with selected indicators of health outcomes, health system outputs, health risk factors, and health determinants. While not a comprehensive overview of health and its determinants these profiles provide a snapshot of some key issues in urban areas for which there is standardized available data across countries.


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How urban societies can adapt to resource shortage and climate change

May 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 13 May 2011 vol. 369 no. 1942

How urban societies can adapt to resource shortage and climate change

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David Satterthwaite, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), 3 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H 0DD, UK

With more than half the world’s population now living in urban areas and with much of the world still urbanizing, there are concerns that urbanization is a key driver of unsustainable resource demands. Urbanization also appears to contribute to ever-growing levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Meanwhile, in much of Africa and Asia and many nations in Latin America and the Caribbean, urbanization has long outstripped local governments’ capacities or willingness to act as can be seen in the high proportion of the urban population living in poor quality, overcrowded, illegal housing lacking provision for water, sanitation, drainage, healthcare and schools.

But there is good evidence that urban areas can combine high living standards with relatively low GHG emissions and lower resource demands. This paper draws on some examples of this and considers what these imply for urban policies in a resource-constrained world. These suggest that cities can allow high living standards to be combined with levels of GHG emissions that are much lower than those that are common in affluent cities today. This can be achieved not with an over-extended optimism on what new technologies can bring but mostly by a wider application of what already has been shown to work.

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India ‘redefines’ poverty for new survey

May 19, 2011 1 comment

May 19, 2011 – India’s cabinet has approved a proposal for a survey to identify people living below the poverty line, which also redefines what constitutes poverty.

It will classify the rural poor into “destitutes, manual scavengers and primitive tribal groups”.

Urban poor will be defined as those in vulnerable shelters, low-paid jobs and homes headed by women or children.

The survey, to be conducted alongside a caste census later this year, will help identify those who need state aid.

There are various estimates on the exact number of poor in India.

Officially, 37% of India’s 1.21bn people live below the poverty line. But one estimate suggests this figure could be as high as 77%.

The last poverty survey was conducted in 2002, but this is the first time that details about caste and religion will be included. The last caste census in India was in 1931.

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Nairobi – Affordable healthcare system for urban poor

May 19, 2011 Leave a comment

May 18, 2011 – Affordable healthcare systems boost safe motherhood for poor

When Zacharia Rombo and Samuel Agutu came together in 2008, the mission was simple — to develop a system that embraces technology to provide affordable healthcare.

This was informed by past experiences in their careers as chartered insurer and accountant respectively.

The result of this union was the birth of Changamka Micro Health Limited, a private company in the business of health insurance that targets the poor.

“It was after realising that not more than 10 per cent of Kenyans are insured under health schemes that we decided to go this way. The purpose was to get the uninsured poor who are the majority in the population, to a position to plan and afford medical care,” says Mr Rombo.

At the beginning, the initial focus was on general healthcare.

However, this has since changed to include safe maternal healthcare targeting 60 per cent of Kenyan women who deliver outside medical facilities.

Today, Changamka Micro Health is known for its popular smart card — the Changamka card — which allows members to save in advance for medical expenses to cover inpatient and outpatient services.

Unlike the common insurance schemes that restrict members to certain amounts of premiums for specified values of medical cover, the smart card allows for flexible contributions.

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