Experts say NCDs and infectious disease outbreaks a double-burden threat to urban dwellers

The rising non-communicable disease burden, persistent threats of infectious disease outbreaks, violence, high-rates of depression, anxiety and mental ill health are currently critical issues affecting the health of urban dwellers.

Recent statistics from the World Health Organisation show that over 55 per cent of the world’s population live in urban areas. This statistics is set to rise to 68 per cent by 2050. Additionally, almost 40% of urban dwellers have no access to safely managed sanitation services,

These issues took centre stage at a two-day media training programme on a project titled “Community-led Responsive and Effective Urban Health Systems” (CHORUS).

The School of Public Health of the University of Ghana in partnership with other stakeholders and civil society organisations such as Women, Media and Change (WOMEC) is running the project.

Journalists from the Greater Accra, Eastern, Central, Ashanti and Volta regions are attending the workshop organized in Accra by the University of Ghana.

The CHORUS project is a six-year programme running from May 2020 to March 2026.

It is a multi-country research programme consortium (RPC) focusing on building resilient urban health systems with funding from United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The project aims to undertake research that responds to the practical challenges of delivering equitable health services in urban areas of four partner countries: Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal and Nigeria.

It is seeking to conduct research to understand, explore and evaluate interventions to build resilience and respond to the health challenges of increasing rapid and uncontrolled urbanization across low and middle-income countries (LMICs).  

Dr. Charity Binka, Executive Director of WOMEC, making a presentation on “urban health communication: the realities”, said many urban dwellers lack access to adequate drinking water, with an estimated 91 per cent of people in urban areas breathing polluted air.

She said poorly designed urban transport systems create a range of threats including road traffic injuries and continued urbanization is expected to lead to cities becoming epicentres of disease transmission, including vector-borne diseases.

Dr. Binka said the media has a critical role to play in evidence communication, research to policy and social accountability.

She added that as part of its efforts to improve urban health and build capacity to improve urban health, the CHORUS consortium aims to strengthen the capacity of media practitioners in the countries in which it works to report on urban health policy and systems issues.

Madam Ivy Akusika Agbenu, Monitoring and Evaluation Lead of the CHORUS project, touched on the four pillars of the project.

She the CHORUS project is built around some interlinked pillars of building collaboration across sectors to address wider determinants of health in the urban health settings.

This also include strengthening urban health systems to prevent and respond to the double burden of non-communicable and communicable diseases and identifying, reaching and engaging the urban poor.

Madam Ada Nwanmene, a lecturer at the School of Public Health, University Ghana, said health involves the total well-being of a person and this centres around various social and economic factors including accessibility and affordability of health services, which largely affects the health outcomes of poor urban dwellers.

By Eunice Menka

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