What makes cities healthy, equitable, and environmentally sustainable? Lessons from Latin America

Urbanization has benefits but also risks to human health and the environment. Currently, Latin America has 80% of urban areas and is expected to become the most urbanized region in the world by 2050. Thus, Latin America offers an opportunity to study the determinants of urban health in different scenarios with fast transformations in order to generate policies that promote urban health and sustainable development worldwide.


This study, which involves ten countries in Latin America, has four objectives: 1) to quantify the contributions of city and neighbourhood level factors to differences in levels of health and health inequalities among and within cities 2) to evaluate the health environmental impact of city and neighbourhood-level policies/interventions by capitalizing on natural experiments 3) to employ systems thinking and formal systems simulation models to a) better understand the dynamic relations between the urban environment, health, and environmental sustainability; and b) identify the plausible impacts of selected policies under varying conditions and dynamic relations, and 4) to engage with the scientific community, the public, and policymakers in order to disseminate findings and translate them into policies and interventions.


The project uses different methods depending on the objectives. In order to respond to the first objective, the work consists of collecting, ordering and analyzing, among others, data on mortality, birth, morbidity, censuses, and risk factor surveys in dozens of cities in Latin America, which are available or will be requested from public and private institutions responsible for the data.


This project has recently started.


J. Jaime Miranda


Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua y Peru


Wellcome Trust (United Kingdom)


5 years

Research team

J Jaime Miranda, MD, MSc, PhD. Francisco Diez Canseco BA, MPH. Akram Hernández Vásquez, MD, MSc.


Drexel University, Universidad Nacional de Lanus, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), Universidad de Chile, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Universidad de los Andes – Colombia, Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Instituto de Nutrición de Centro América y Panamá (INCAP), University of California at Berkeley, Washington University in St Louis, International Institute for Global Health United Nations University (UNU), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).