Domaine thématique 5

Crises sanitaires dans les villes : tirer les leçons du passé et planifier l'avenir


Ian Cooper, Public Health Agency of Canada

Haotian Guan, University of Ottawa, Canada



The topic of health crises in cities has gained increasing attention in recent years due to the growth and urbanization of many regions around the world. The concentration of populations and unequal distribution or lack of resources augment the risk and impact of these health crises.

Amid the coronavirus, economic and social repercussions of health crises have become very apparent, especially if they aren’t managed properly. These crises are often linked to loss of life, as well as deterioration of the overall health and economy across one or more geographic locations. Urbanization has amplified the problems caused by health crises; cities are growing at an alarming rate and this leads to an uneven distribution of populations and a disorganized urban landscape. It also often signifies that not everyone has equal access to resources to help mitigate challenges that result from these crises.

Urban planning has become an important discussion in the midst of the coronavirus as many businesses around the world have been forced to shut down or operate at reduced capacity. However, the link between health and urban development has been known for some time. For example, the World Health Organization hosted a consultation in 2008 to discuss the role of cities and suggested guidelines for cities in case of an international infectious disease crisis. They are also responsible for the creation of the International Health Regulations, a series of regulations created to help prevent, control and protect against health risks that have been adopted by 196 countries around the world.

As urban populations continue to grow, the development of cities can either help or hinder our response to health crises. Global experiences with the coronavirus have emphasized the need to incorporate a healthcare perspective into urban planning and development in order to effectively deal with current and future health crises.

Sub Questions:

  • How do we address concerns over urban health equality. There can often be great disparities within a city to the factors that contribute to determinants of health, including poverty, safety, and transportation.
  • All three regions have dealt with epidemics and pandemics (SARS, H1N1 and currently with Covid-19). What are some best-practices that have come out of these experiences? Are there any that are applicable in broader contexts? What gaps have they revealed? (ex. dissemination of information, stock of health supplies)
  • There has been significant progress in technology in the past decade, including a rise in the use of social media. How can we use new technologies in a positive and effective manner to help diminish the threat of health crises?
  • What health hazards should be considered in urban planning? How can these hazards, such as limited access to clean water, overcrowded housing, etc., be avoided in order to establish sustainable and resilient approaches to prevent and respond to health crises in cities?