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Urban Health in Africa

Research to policy to action

Deadline: 2 August 2019

Call for Contributions

The global development agenda has recently entered a new era under the Sustainable Development Goals framework. This framework presents a broad, universalist approach with a strong focus on equity, leaving no one behind. Despite being the least urbanized globally, sub-Saharan Africa is rapidly urbanizing, with its urban population projected to reach 55% by 2050.

In this special issue, we will focus on the health of urban populations in African cities and urban populations through the lens of the wider determinants of health.  We want to draw on the rich history of research and engaged scholarly activity into urban health in settlements across Africa. The journal Cities & Health’s specific focus is the impact on health and health equity of the built and natural urban environment. Determinants of health are heavily influenced by spatial development choices, urban design and planning, and city governance; these include access, ownership, distribution and maintenance of urban resources, amenities and infrastructures. 

While African cities continue to offer greater amenities, better employment opportunities and better services, they also concentrate risks and hazards for health.  These risks are exacerbated because the majority of urban dwellers live in slums or slum-like conditions. In addition, the quality of services and infrastructure needs to be improved for the general population. These conditions are detrimental to the living and health conditions of Africa’s urban populations. In line with the Sustainable Development Goal agenda, understanding specific health and livelihood conditions of slum dwellers require adequate data at local levels often lacking through national surveys, which mostly provide national indicators that blur inter- and intra-sub-group inequities.

However, African cities are also comprised of urban non-slum communities where people in the “missing middle” reside, work, and support families.  Understanding the health dynamic of these urban populations are as critical to defining the landscape of urban health in Africa.  For example, the recent WHO Housing and Health Guidelines provide context for focus on one sector, housing, in the urban ecosystem:

The quality and environmental context of housing are some of the main dimensions of environmental inequalities. Poor housing conditions are one of the mechanisms through which social and environmental inequality translates into health inequality, which further affects the quality of life and well-being.” 

In addition, UN-HABITAT’s focus on Urban and Territorial Planning for Health provides an important focus on urban planning and design as essential elements in urban health policies to help make healthy people and healthy promoting environments positive outcomes of urbanization.

  • We invite contributions to the evidence base for research-to-policy-to-action in the important search for pathways to reduce health inequities and improve living conditions.
  • We want to hear from those working amongst the urban poor and amongst the “missing middle”.
  • We welcome commentary from those working within the global sustainable development agenda: SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities).

This special issue provides a platform for health scientists, thought leaders, communicators, policy makers across sectors at the municipal and national levels, cross-sectoral implementors and practitioners, health geographers and urban planners, among others, to engage with these agendas - and with each other - through an international platform. 

  • What innovations lead to action for urban health equity in African cities?
  • How is research, practice, and evidence-based program implementation helping to inform urban health policy-making?
  • What types of monitoring and evaluation are effective in determining what works and informing urban health planning?
  • How do we form the coalitions needed to meet the challenges and opportunities to support health in urban communities?
  • How do we use participatory approaches when mapping health status and the determinants of health in urban populations?

We provide a platform for African and Africanist researchers and practitioners:

  • to highlight research from all dimensions of evidence generation as well as health program implementation processes.
  • to stimulate debate on the added-value, opportunities and challenges in urban health research, including the challenges in research processes and research education.
  • to examine the latest thinking on data at local levels as an important component of addressing urban health challenges.

Cities & Health is a journal dedicated not just to crossing boundaries, be the disciplinary, geographic or professional, but also to stimulating the growth of a new body of practice.

We especially welcome co-designed and co-produced research, particularly when jointly coordinated between academic and non-academic partners.

We accept a wide range of contributions types, and especially encourage submissions from those outside traditional academia - politicians, policy-makers, local community stakeholders and practitioners. We publish article of different length from major academic articles to shorter case studies and commentaries. See types of contribution for further details.

Graphic illustrations and visual content is always encouraged through the use, as appropriate, of diagrams, logic models, annotated plans, maps, figures, tables and photos.

Cities & Health

Table of Contents for Cities & Health. List of articles from both the latest and ahead of print issues.

Language: en-US

Publisher: Routledge

Visit Journal Articles



Editors and Guest Editors

Lead Editors: Blessing Mberu and Yonette Thomas

Co-editors: On behalf of Cities & Health: Tolu Oni and Marcus Grant

Co-editor(s): On behalf of APHRC: Catherine Kyobutungi

Co-editor(s): On behalf of ISUH Africa Workgroup: Jean Christophe Fotso, Blaise Nguendo-Yongsi, Remy Sietchiping

Co-editor: On behalf of International Science Council: Charles Ebekeme

How to submit your paper

Full instructions on preparing and submitting your article, including details of each type of contribution, can be found in the journal Instructions for Authors.
Visit the Instructions for Authors