Data and density: Two tools to boost health equity in cities

Article by Ann Aerts and Diana Rodríguez Franco: “Improving health and health equity for vulnerable populations requires addressing the social determinants of health. In the US, it is estimated that medical care only accounts for 10-20% of health outcomes while social determinants like education and income account for the remaining 80-90%.

Place-based interventions, however, are showing promise for improving health outcomes despite persistent inequalities. Research and practice increasingly point to the role of cities in promoting health equity — or reversing health inequities — as 56% of the global population lives in cities, and several social determinants of health are directly tied to urban factors like opportunity, environmental health, neighbourhoods and physical environments, access to food and more.

Thus, it is critical to identify both true drivers of good health and poor health outcomes so that underserved populations can be better served.

Place-based strategies can address health inequities and lead to meaningful improvements for vulnerable populations…

Initial data analysis revealed a strong correlation between cardiovascular disease risk in city residents and social determinants such as higher education, commuting time, access to Medicaid, rental costs and internet access.

Understanding which data points are correlated with health risks is key to effectively tailoring interventions.

Determined to reverse this trend, city authorities have launched a “HealthyNYC” campaign and are working with the Novartis Foundation to uncover the behavioural and social determinants behind non-communicable diseases (NCDs) (e.g. diabetes and cardiovascular disease), which cause 87% of all deaths in New York City…(More)”