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Healthy cities for all

King's has joined a major new research partnership funded by Wellcome Trust’s £10m Our Planet, Our Health programme that aims to understand how best to transform and develop healthier cities, while also protecting the planet.

The university’s researchers are working with scientists and practitioners from academic institutions and organisations across four continents on Pathways to Equitable Healthy Cities. The project explores healthcare services as well as urban health disparities across transport, housing, water and waste management.

Six cities are acting as case studies for the project: London, Dhaka, Vancouver, Beijing and Accra and Tamale in Ghana. Insights from these cities are being analysed at the London Hub for Urban Health, Sustainability and Equality to develop a comprehensive picture of urban health across global populations. Computer modelling of the data will establish the potential success – and unintended consequences – of initiatives such as safe low-income housing and large public transport systems.

Over half of the world’s population live in cities and by 2050 this figure is expected to rise to 70 per cent. Public services will become increasingly stretched as urban populations increase, impacting the health and wellbeing of city dwellers. Pathways to Equitable Healthy Cities aims to develop tangible solutions to these public health challenges that are rigorously evaluated, sustainable and adaptable to diverse environments.

Professor Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London is leading the global study, with Professor Frans Berkhout, Executive Dean in the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy, coordinating King’s involvement alongside Professor Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health & Director of the Environmental Research Group at King’s.

Professor Berkhout said, ‘This is really exciting interdisciplinary research, working with stakeholders in diverse cities to achieve step-changes in health, especially in more vulnerable groups.’

This new partnership will create a world-leading hub for urban health, addressing many of the unanswered questions that have previously stood in the way of progress.– Professor Howard Frumkin, Head, Our Planet, Our Health at the Wellcome Trust

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