What it's about:
The urban development community’s lack of attention to communicable diseases presents dangers as well as opportunities, according to urban planners Nels Nelson and Sam Sternin.
Cities are being transformed via programmes aimed at increasing urban resilience, with investments frequently employing urban planning and design to address climate adaptation. But investments rarely address health, with non-communicable diseases receiving little attention.
This approach underestimates the risks of urban pandemics in middle and upper-income cities, despite the recent scares of SARS, Zika, and Ebola, the urban consultants argue in an article published on City Lab.
The article proposes a number of ways in which ongoing investments aimed at improving climate change resilience could be broadened to
proactively reduce the risk of urban epidemics and decrease the cost of containing them.
City mayors, urban planners, civic groups and philanthropists should incorporate communicable disease control into their resilience programmes to protect residents from diseases, the authors argue.
Why it's noteworthy:
There is an urgent need to include communicable disease prevention in the global urban resilience agenda, according to the authors.
Millions of people currently living in informal settlements and peri-urban areas lack access to basic care. In countries as diverse as Pakistan and Madagascar, the districts with the largest numbers of unvaccinated children are not rural or mountainous areas – they’re the primary and secondary cities. Urban primary health services can reduce epidemics by reducing susceptibility through preventative services, including immunisation.
Monitoring and surveillance has the power to predict outbreaks for enhanced prevention. More mayors need to have targets and indicators linked with communicable disease risk factors (water, sanitation, primary health coverage, disease vectors, etc.) in their management dashboards.
A stand-alone framework for control of communicable diseases in cities would be extremely costly. A more effective path is to integrate epidemic prevention into existing and future urban planning, management, budgets, programs, and strategies to avoid the next deadly pandemic.
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