Healthy Cities: Intersectoral approaches to non-communicable disease prevention in Africa
Africa is experiencing a double burden of disease. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease are overshadowing the gains recorded in communicable disease prevention. NCDs are increasingly borne by disadvantaged populations during their economically productive years; driven by rapid urbanisation characterised by inequitable access to active living and healthy eating.
In the context of limited resources; preventing these diseases before they occur by addressing upstream determinants will translate to long term savings by ultimately reducing the burden of diseases that need to be addressed within the healthcare system. However, strategies to address these behaviours often focus solely on
individual-level interventions at the expense of addressing limitations in the natural and built environment that would make healthier choices the easy choice.
Cities in Africa represent an opportunity to take the lead on re-thinking strategies to turn the tide of this emerging NCD epidemic. With ongoing urban growth and development, there is an opportunity for transformative development in African cities that fosters health, wellbeing and equity, the absence of which impedes achievement of sustainable economic development. This will require an integrated and intersectoral approach to urban planning and development, and the generation and implementation of contextual evidence for effective NCD prevention in the long term.
The Research Initiative for Cities Health and Equity (RICHE)|Africa is a collaboration of policy makers and interdisciplinary academics conducting trans-disciplinary urban health research, focused on generating evidence to support development and implementation of healthy public policies in rapidly growing cities in Africa. Ongoing collaborative research projects are:
– Exploring perspectives from human settlements and health decision makers in Cape Town, South Africa and Douala, Cameroon, on environmental determinants of health;
– Charting Africa regional intersectoral policy opportunities to improve diet and physical activity;
– Working with adolescents to identify opportunities for youth-friendly intersectoral approaches to NCD
prevention in Cape Town, Yaoundé, Cameroon and Kisumu, Kenya.
Cognisant of the rich diversity of environmental, historical, socio-cultural and policy contexts in Africa’s cities,
this workshop aims to:
– convene key urban policy actors, researchers and multilateral regional and global actors from, or relevant to, cities in Africa working across different sectors to explore inter-sectoral approaches to NCD prevention through urban interventions that support healthy diets and active living across Africa
– facilitate capacity building for urban and regional actors, policy makers and researchers on promoting and implementing a “healthy city” approach to sustainable development
– develop an operational framework and partnerships for co-created and contextualized knowledge on effective intersectoral interventions for NCD prevention in Africa.
Over the course of the workshop, delegates, from different cities across Africa, will:
1. Share perspectives on the aspects of the natural and built environment that pose challenges and opportunities for NCD prevention in participating cities.
2. Share experiences of [ongoing and future] intersectoral government initiatives and governance mechanisms for health creation in participating cities, and to explore how these could be harnessed for NCD prevention.
3. Collaboratively identify challenges [past, present and future] to developing and implementing intersectoral initiatives and share experiences of different approaches to addressing these challenges.
4. Participate in training sessions on how to promote and implement a healthy city approach
5. Explore the role of, and potential for trans-disciplinary research to generate relevant and useful evidence
to support inter-sectoral NCD prevention in Africa.
6. Explore next steps to support ongoing shared learning, and collaborative research on inter-sectoral approaches to NCD prevention in Africa.