Science Academies in Eastern Africa release new report on urban health

Urban eastern Africa is in the midst of an epidemiological transition, both among low- and high-income population groups. Despite many improvements over the past decades, communicable diseases (CDs) remain a major cause for concern. Low-income populations in particular continue to be disproportionately affected by CDs in urban areas. Health facilities are more numerous and closer together in urban than rural areas—but [economically] poorer communities still struggle to access them. As a result, the Study reveals that, urban environments in East Africa are violent areas, especially slums and other areas where disadvantaged and poorer communities reside.

This collaborative consensus study report is titled “Owning Our Urban Future: Enabling Healthy Cities in Eastern Africa”  initiated by partner organizations, including the Uganda National  Academy  of  Sciences  (UNAS),  the  Kenya  National  Academy  of Sciences (KNAS), the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences (EAS), The Tanzania Academy  of  Sciences  (TAAS),  the  Ethiopia  Young  Academy  of  Sciences (EtYAS), and the African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST).

The major aim of the report is to examine the ways in which the eastern African demographic, infrastructural, and cultural shift interact with the health of populations and submit recommendations for policymakers. Correspondingly, the experts Statement of Task of the Study also include identification of the underlying social, political, and economic factors impacting health in East African cities.

Across eastern Africa, cities are now the major centers of livelihood opportunities, social structures and health. Referring to most recent estimates from World Urbanization Prospects (2018), the Study reports 25% of eastern Africa’s population lived in urban areas in 2015; underlining that this ratio was the lowest in the continent.

Urban  eastern  Africa  is  in  the  midst  of  an epidemiological  transition,  both  among  low-  and  high-income  population groups. Despite many improvements over the past decades, communicable diseases (CDs) remain a major cause for concern. Low-income populations in particular continue to be disproportionately affected by CDs in urban areas. Health facilities are more numerous and closer together in urban than rural areas—but [economically] poorer communities still struggle to access them. As a result, the Study reveals that, urban environments in East Africa are violent areas, especially slums and other areas where disadvantaged and poorer communities reside.

Equally to the policy and urban health agenda formulation, the Report suggests where individuals can play ultimate role and must be empowered to engage with their environments and communities.

Throughout the preparation stages of the Report, 14 experts (five women and nine men; two of them from Ethiopia) balanced as much as possible along lines of gender, nationality, and discipline have participated. Such consensus studies and reports are powerful methodological tools to establish expert agreement on questions of practice.

You can download the Report in PDF format here.

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