Journal of Urban Health

, 88:875 | Cite as

Toward a Research and Action Agenda on Urban Planning/Design and Health Equity in Cities in Low and Middle-Income Countries

  • Warren SmitEmail author
  • Trevor Hancock
  • Jacob Kumaresen
  • Carlos Santos-Burgoa
  • Raúl Sánchez-Kobashi Meneses
  • Sharon Friel


The importance of reestablishing the link between urban planning and public health has been recognized in recent decades; this paper focuses on the relationship between urban planning/design and health equity, especially in cities in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The physical urban environment can be shaped through various planning and design processes including urban planning, urban design, landscape architecture, infrastructure design, architecture, and transport planning. The resultant urban environment has important impacts on the health of the people who live and work there. Urban planning and design processes can also affect health equity through shaping the extent to which the physical urban environments of different parts of cities facilitate the availability of adequate housing and basic infrastructure, equitable access to the other benefits of urban life, a safe living environment, a healthy natural environment, food security and healthy nutrition, and an urban environment conducive to outdoor physical activity. A new research and action agenda for the urban environment and health equity in LMICs should consist of four main components. We need to better understand intra-urban health inequities in LMICs; we need to better understand how changes in the built environment in LMICs affect health equity; we need to explore ways of successfully planning, designing, and implementing improved health/health equity; and we need to develop evidence-based recommendations for healthy urban planning/design in LMICs.


Urban health Health inequity Urban planning Evidence 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Warren Smit
    • 1
    Email author
  • Trevor Hancock
    • 2
  • Jacob Kumaresen
    • 3
  • Carlos Santos-Burgoa
    • 4
  • Raúl Sánchez-Kobashi Meneses
    • 5
  • Sharon Friel
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.African Centre for CitiesUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.School of Public Health and Social PolicyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  3. 3.World Health Organization Centre for Health DevelopmentKobeJapan
  4. 4.Pan American Health OrganisationWashingtonUSA
  5. 5.Directorate-General for Health PromotionMinistry of HealthMexico CityMexico
  6. 6.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  7. 7.National Centre for Epidemiology and Population HealthAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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