Emily Badger’s recent post on the Atlantic Cities Blog highlights a new study published online by URHIS profiling health data from 26 cities across the EU. Although global health data is typically presented at the country level, there can be significant variation among cities within a country. The findings suggest the importance of considering city-level data when evaluating health indicators such as mortality rates and the prevalence and incidence of disease.
The results suggest that cities have a kind of unique health fingerprint in much the same way countries – or even individuals – do. And it’s a little overwhelming to begin to think about why this might be.
Because health policy decisions can be made at the local level, city-level data could inform these decisions. Tailoring interventions to meet a city’s particular needs enhances the opportunity to improve a country’s health overall.
This raises a lot of questions about how decisions made at the local level – around smoking ordinances, bike lanes, green space, traffic management, drinking age, land use, air quality – might impact even cancer rates.
In fact, the researches for the study are still in the process of interviewing the policymakers in each city. In his new book, Planet of Cities, Solly Angel highlights the need for the collection of city-level data that could be comparable globally. The UHRIS study indicates an important step in gathering such data for the health sector.