Public health and urban planning are closely linked, with better design of urban spaces having positive effects on human health. Developing a city with the health of everyone in mind is important for the improvement of human wellbeing. For example, an impact assessment can help urban decision-makers measure the effects of different development projects on human health. According to the World Bank, HIAs are a way to measure and assess the impact of different economic activities on health. The WHO defines HIAs as “an instrument for assessing the effects of various policy changes on public health”. HIAs can be conducted using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Some countries are even formalizing the use of HIAs to improve urban health.
Cities have been working on developing and testing new approaches to tackle health issues. The Impact on Urban Health initiative has been looking at real-world solutions for creating cities that create equal access for everyone, and protect disadvantaged communities. For example, London is developing a new model of community research that takes into account the inherent inequalities built into traditional health research and taps into community knowledge and awareness. This approach allows for more nuanced insights.
While traditional health research approaches are valuable, cities must be sensitive to the needs and aspirations of citizens. The most effective approaches involve building trust, agency, and voice to increase social inclusion and equality. No one city has adopted every approach. To develop and adopt new approaches, cities must have a strong leadership team and the necessary time. To ensure success, cities should test different concepts and see which ones are more effective. They should also consider the costs and benefits of each approach.
HIAs can be used to address these health challenges in cities around the world. The Impact on Urban Health project has been researching real-world solutions to create cities that protect disadvantaged communities and provide equal access to resources. To achieve these goals, cities must take risks and ensure that their implementation is equitable. The research and analysis should be inclusive and collaborative, and preferably participative. The authors recommend using a participatory approach to assess the impact of urban planning and housing policies on the health of all residents.
There is evidence that urban health can improve quality of life. Changing cultural norms and social paradigms can make a huge difference. By ensuring that communities are safer and healthier, cities will decrease their premature mortality. The same goes for poor urban communities. Reducing the burden of disease and increasing the access to healthcare, city governments can ensure that their residents are healthier and live longer. For better health, city leaders should consider the ways of enhancing the environment.
Some cities are implementing strategies to prevent COVID-19 and other illnesses in the city. Reducing the amount of solid waste in urban areas will also decrease air pollution in cities. However, public health guidelines can conflict with transport and public space. To avoid this, policy makers should focus on improving urban environments. By addressing these issues, cities can improve the quality of life and reduce the risk of premature mortality. This will result in better lives.