WHO launches one-stop shop for health data in cities

With urbanization as a leading trend in health issues over the next decade and beyond, the WHO has launched the first-ever global access to urban health data. Recent decades have seen increased availability in evidence-based information for national health indicators, but there is a dearth of city level data using globally agreed standards. Urban data for 45 countries is now available as part of the WHO Global Health Observatory Database.

“This is a significant milestone to improve urban policies by providing the data needed to formulate evidence-based legislation and regulations around health,” notes Dr Kumaresan, Director of the WHO Centre for Health Development. “But more work is needed for cities to collect that data. This marks the beginning of the long road ahead to provide a statistical view into the lives of people living in cities.” The WHO Centre for Health Development serves as the coordinating research centre for global urban health data.

Urban health is one of 20 themes contained in the WHO Global Health Observatory. Other themes include women and health, road safety, and noncommunicable diseases. The Global Health Observatory theme pages provide data and analyses on global health priorities (of which urban health is one). Each theme page provides information on global situation and trends highlights, using core indicators, database views, major publications and links to relevant web pages on the theme.

For example, analysis shows urban under-five mortality rates have improved in 86% of the countries studied (comparing the periods of 1990-1999 and 2000-2007). However, the data also shows that differences in health outcomes between the urban rich and urban poor are present in almost all countries. Key urban health indicators such as infant mortality, tobacco consumption, air pollution, access to safe water, and HIV/AIDS can be accessed in the newly launched database.