4. Megacities and health challenges: urbanization, health and global environmental change
Since 2007, the department has been involved in conducting research on multifaceted challenges and threats posed by the unplanned and largely ungoverned megacities to human health and well-being. The goal of this interdisciplinary research endeavor is to understand the dynamics of development and growth of megacities (population larger than ten million) in South Asia and China. This initiative primarily focuses on four thematic areas: a) to understand the informal economic processes whereby people compel to migrate to urban centers; b) availability of resources (e.g. water, air, sanitation, etc.) and their consumption patterns in terms of population diversity including health consequences; c) patterns of settlement zones, marginalization and slum formations; and, d) governability of megacities. For empirical investigations, we have selected two project sites; Dhaka (Bangladesh) and the megaurban region of the Pearl River Delta in South China.
In cooperation with climatologists, geographers, meteorologists, urban planners, and together with our partner institutions from Bangladesh and China, we are involved in conducting epidemiological studies to assess the health status, health behavior and health care provisions of the slum-population and other urban centers. Our partner institutions include Dhaka University, Sun Yat-sen University Guangzhou, Hong Kong University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
We have conducted a comparative study of slum inhabitants of Dhaka (Bangladesh) and highly urbanized localities of Guangzhou (China). The scope of the study was to investigate the dynamics of seasonal variations, weather and its repercussions on the health of the population. Our aim is to develop a sophisticated and scientifically sound geo-epidemiological model for an accurate and efficient health surveillance of vulnerable population in megacities of the developing world.
International Summer School
Since 2009, with the collaboration of colleagues from Humboldt University, Berlin, the department has organized the International Summer School “Spatial Epidemiology, Climate and Health - Cocecpts and Modelling". This interdisciplinary training course offers a unique insight into the intersection of climate change, health and geography within the context of rapid urbanization processes and the formation of megacities.