Dr Megumi Rosenberg has been a Technical Officer for the World Health Organization (WHO) Centre for Health Development in Kobe, Japan, since 2009. She conducts research in the areas of health metrics, urban health, health equity and ageing. She also provides technical assistance on these matters to national and local health officials in WHO Member States. Her recent work includes the Global Report on Urban Health (2016) and the Age-friendly City core indicator guide (2015). Previously, she was a Senior Researcher in public health and disasters at the Southern California Injury Prevention Research Centre of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She received her undergraduate degree in liberal arts from the International Christian University in Tokyo, and her master and doctorate degrees in public health from the UCLA School of Public Health.
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More Seniors = More Need For Help
New Haven Independent online
Dr. Megumi Kano and Paul Rosenberg, Officers for Urban Health at WHO, also underscored community-wide ownership of age-inclusive indicators as a strategy for designing livable cities.
“The community should be engaged at the outset in developing the vision for the project,” Kano said. “They should be empowered to engage with decisions about how indicator data should be collected, validated, shared and used to improve age-inclusiveness in the community.”
Such an approach, Kano and Rosenberg said, ensures the sustainability of age-inclusive policies in the face of changing local leadership.
Featured Articles (15)
Aboderin I, Kano M, Owii HA
A majority of urban residents in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and other developing regions live in informal settlements, or slums. Much of the discourse on slum health centres on younger generations, while an intensifying agenda on healthy ageing as yet lacks a systematic focus on slums. Similarly, the global age-friendly cities (AFC) movement does not, thus far, extend to slums. This paper examines the particular challenges that a slum-focused age-friendly initiative in SSA may need to address, and the relevance of present AFC indicators and domains for initiatives to advance the health and well-being of older slum dwellers. The analysis builds on the case of two slum communities in Nairobi, Kenya. It analyzes two bodies of relevant evidence from these settlements, namely on the health and social circumstances of older residents, and on the local application and measurement of AFC indicators. The findings point to a set of unsurprising, but also less obvious, core health and social adversities that an age-friendly initiative in such settlements would need to consider. The findings show, further, that the current AFC domains and indicators framework only partly capture these adversities, but that there is potential for adapting the framework to be meaningful for slum settings. The paper concludes by underscoring the need for, and opportunities inherent in, the pursuit of an "age-friendly slums" initiative going forward.
Kano M, Rosenberg PE, Dalton SD
Barber A, Rosenberg M
Global population aging is the result of successes in public health, enabling longer life expectancy in many countries. The Asia Pacific region is aging more rapidly than many other parts of the world. The implications will be profound for every sector of society, requiring policy makers to reframe their thinking about the design of health and social systems to enable older populations to thrive. With increasing demand for more and different kinds of services, an imperative is shifting resources toward primary care for the prevention and comprehensive care of people with chronic conditions, and establishing linkages with community support. Major innovations are underway that accelerate progress in attaining universal health coverage for older populations. The renewed commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve universal health coverage offer a unique opportunity to invest in the foundations of the health system of the future.
Prasad A, Gray CB, Ross A, Kano M.
The research community has shown increasing interest in developing and using metrics to determine the relationships between urban living and health. In particular, we have seen a recent exponential increase in efforts aiming to investigate and apply metrics for urban health, especially the health impacts of the social and built environments as well as air pollution. A greater recognition of the need to investigate the impacts and trends of health inequities is also evident through more recent literature. Data availability and accuracy have improved through new affordable technologies for mapping, geographic information systems (GIS), and remote sensing. However, less research has been conducted in low- and middle-income countries where quality data are not always available, and capacity for analyzing available data may be limited. For this increased interest in research and development of metrics to be meaningful, the best available evidence must be accessible to decision makers to improve health impacts through urban policies.
Bortz M, Kano M, Ramroth H, Barcellos C, Weaver SR, Rothenberg R, Magalhães M
An urban health index (UHI) was used to quantify health inequalities within Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the years 2002-2010. Eight main health indicators were generated at the ward level using mortality data. The indicators were combined to form the index. The distribution of the rank ordered UHI-values provides information on inequality among wards, using the ratio of the extremes and the gradient of the middle values. Over the decade the ratio of extremes in 2010 declined relative to 2002 (1.57 vs. 1.32) as did the slope of the middle values (0.23 vs. 0.16). A spatial division between the affluent south and the deprived north and east is still visible. The UHI correlated on an ecological ward-level with socioeconomic and urban environment indicators like square meter price of apartments (0.54, p < 0.01), low education of mother (-0.61, p < 0.01), low income (-0.62, p < 0.01) and proportion of black ethnicity (-0.55, p < 0.01). The results suggest that population health and equity have improved in Rio de Janeiro in the last decade though some familiar patterns of spatial inequality remain.
Prasad A, Kano M, Dagg KA, Mori H, Senkoro HH, Ardakani MA, Elfeky S, Good S, Engelhardt K, Ross A, Armada F
Following the recommendations of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2008), the World Health Organization (WHO) developed the Urban Health Equity Assessment and Response Tool (HEART) to support local stakeholders in identifying and planning action on health inequities. The objective of this report is to analyze the experiences of cities in implementing Urban HEART in order to inform how the future development of the tool could support local stakeholders better in addressing health inequities. The study method is documentary analysis from independent evaluations and city implementation reports submitted to WHO. Independent evaluations were conducted in 2011-12 on Urban HEART piloting in 15 cities from seven countries in Asia and Africa: Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Mongolia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Local or national health departments led Urban HEART piloting in 12 of the 15 cities. Other stakeholders commonly engaged included the city council, budget and planning departments, education sector, urban planning department, and the Mayor's office. Ten of the 12 core indicators recommended in Urban HEART were collected by at least 10 of the 15 cities. Improving access to safe water and sanitation was a priority equity-oriented intervention in 12 of the 15 cities, while unemployment was addressed in seven cities. Cities who piloted Urban HEART displayed confidence in its potential by sustaining or scaling up its use within their countries. Engagement of a wider group of stakeholders was more likely to lead to actions for improving health equity. Indicators that were collected were more likely to be acted upon. Quality of data for neighbourhoods within cities was one of the major issues. As local governments and stakeholders around the world gain greater control of decisions regarding their health, Urban HEART could prove to be a valuable tool in helping them pursue the goal of health equity.
Rothenberg R, Stauber C, Weaver S, Dai D, Prasad A, Kano M
Though numbers alone may be insufficient to capture the nuances of population health, they provide a common language of appraisal and furnish clear evidence of disparities and inequalities. Over the past 30 years, facilitated by high speed computing and electronics, considerable investment has been made in the collection and analysis of urban health indicators, environmental indicators, and methods for their amalgamation. Much of this work has been characterized by a perceived need for a standard set of indicators. We used publication databases (e.g. Medline) and web searches to identify compilations of health indicators and health metrics. We found 14 long-term large-area compilations of health indicators and determinants and seven compilations of environmental health indicators, comprising hundreds of metrics. Despite the plethora of indicators, these compilations have striking similarities in the domains from which the indicators are drawn—an unappreciated concordance among the major collections. Research with these databases and other sources has produced a small number of composite indices, and a number of methods for the amalgamation of indicators and the demonstration of disparities. These indices have been primarily used for large-area (nation, region, state) comparisons, with both developing and developed countries, often for purposes of ranking. Small area indices have been less explored, in part perhaps because of the vagaries of data availability, and because idiosyncratic local conditions require flexible approaches as opposed to a fixed format. One result has been advances in the ability to compare large areas, but with a concomitant deficiency in tools for public health workers to assess the status of local health and health disparities. Large area assessments are important, but the need for small area action requires a greater focus on local information and analysis, emphasizing method over prespecified content.
Rothenberg R, Weaver S, Dai D, Stauber C, Prasad A, Kano M
Available urban health metrics focus primarily on large area rankings. Less has been done to develop an index that provides information about level of health and health disparities for small geographic areas. Adopting a method used by the Human Development Index, we standardized indicators for small area units on a (0, 1) interval and combined them using their geometric mean to form an Urban Health Index (UHI). Disparities were assessed using the ratio of the highest to lowest decile and measurement of the slope of the eight middle deciles (middle; 80 %) of the data. We examined the sensitivity of the measure to weighting, to changes in the method, to correlation among indicators, and to substitution of indicators. Using seven health determinants and applying these methods to the 128 census tracts in the city of Atlanta, USA, we found a disparity ratio of 5.92 and a disparity slope of 0.54, suggesting substantial inequality and heterogeneity of risk. The component indicators were highly correlated; their systematic removal had a small effect on the results. Except in extreme cases, weighting had a little effect on the rankings. A map of Atlanta census tracts exposed a swath of high disparity. UHI rankings, ratio, and slope were resistant to alteration in composition and to non-extreme weighting schemes. This empirical evaluation was limited to a single realization, but suggests that a flexible tool, whose method rather than content is standardized, may be of use for local evaluation, for decision making, and for area comparison.
Caiaffa WT, Friche AAL, Dias MAS, Meireles AL, Ignacio CF, Prasad A, Kano M
Detailed information on health linked to geographic, sociodemographic, and environmental data are required by city governments to monitor health and the determinants of health. These data are critical for guiding local interventions, resource allocation, and planning decisions, yet they are too often non-existent or scattered. This study aimed to develop a conceptual framework of Urban Health Observatories (UHOs) as an institutional mechanism which can help synthesize evidence and incorporate it into urban policy-making for health and health equity. A survey of a select group of existent UHOs was conducted using an instrument based on an a priori conceptual framework of key structural and functional characteristics of UHOs. A purposive sample of seven UHOs was surveyed, including four governmental, two non-governmental, and one university-based observatory, each from a different country. Descriptive and framework analysis methods were used to analyze the data and to refine the conceptual framework in light of the empirical data. The UHOs were often a product of unique historical circumstances. They were relatively autonomous and capable of developing their own locally sensitive agenda. They often had strong networks for accessing data and were able to synthesize them at the urban level as well as disaggregate them into smaller units. Some UHOs were identified as not only assessing but also responding to local needs. The findings from this study were integrated into a conceptual framework which illustrates how UHOs can play a vital role in monitoring trends in health determinants, outcomes, and equity; optimizing an intersectoral urban information system; incorporating research on health into urban policies and systems; and providing technical guidance on research and evidence-based policy making. In order to be most effective, UHOs should be an integral part of the urban governance system, where multiple sectors of government, the civil society, and businesses can participate in taking the right actions to promote health equity.
Ideally, every community should know whether the environment promotes the participation and health of all its citizens. In societies which have, or which are expecting, a large proportion of older adults in their population, it is especially important to know how well the environment responds to their unique needs. These are things a community should know before it sets out to invest in creating age-friendly environments, while it implements change, and after actions have been taken. But how does a community know where it stands today? How can it establish goals for the future, and assess progress along the way to achieve those goals? The careful selection and use of good indicators provides an important key to answer these questions.
Prasad A, Groot AMM, Monteiro T, Murphy K, O’Campo P, Broide EE, Kano M
To evaluate the experience of select cities in the Americas using the Urban Health Equity Assessment and Response Tool (Urban HEART) launched by the World Health Organization in 2010 and to determine its utility in supporting government efforts to improve health equity using the social determinants of health (SDH) approach.
Kano M, Hotta M, Prasad A
The burden of noncommunicable diseases and social inequalities in health among urban populations is becoming a common problem around the world. This phenomenon is further compounded by population ageing. Japan faces the task of maintaining its high level of population health while dealing with these challenges. This study focused on the ten largest cities in Japan and, using publicly available administrative data, analysed standardized mortality ratios to examine inequalities in relative mortality levels due to major noncommunicable diseases at both city and subcity levels.
Michele M. Wood, Dennis S. Mileti, Megumi Kano, Melissa M. Kelley, Rotrease Regan, Linda B. Bourque
We propose a shift in emphasis when communicating to people when the objective is to motivate household disaster preparedness actions. This shift is to emphasize the communication of preparedness actions (what to do about risk) rather than risk itself. We have called this perspective “communicating actionable risk,” and it is grounded in diffusion of innovations and communication theories.
Linda B. BourqueJudith M. SiegelMegumi KanoMichele M. Wood
Disasters disrupt the natural, built, and social environments, affecting communities and the people within them. Disasters can be triggered by climatic, geophysical, technological, or human-initiated events, or a combination of these. Their impact on the health of a community can be immediate or delayed, and changes in health status may be attributable to the original event or result from events subsequent to the disaster. Deaths, injuries, and other health outcomes of a disaster are usually caused by the destruction of the built infrastructure. In the absence of people living in built communities, disasters do not occur.
Megumi Kano M.P.H., Judith M. Siegel PhD, M.S.Hyg., Linda B. Bourque PhD
Basic first-aid skills can be useful in treating minor injuries that commonly result from natural disasters in the United States. Yet there has been insufficient research on training and competence in first-aid skills among community residents. This study utilises panel data for 414 adults in Los Angeles, California, who were interviewed within three years of the 1994 Northridge earthquake and re-interviewed in 1999 after the El Niño winter of 1997–98. Descriptive, bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed. Results showed that 24 percent of the members of the sample had received first-aid training since their Northridge earthquake interview. First-aid training, particularly recent training, was associated with greater perceived first-aid skills, as well as with increased expected and actual employment of those skills. With the appropriate training and skill retention, lay members of the public can potentially contribute to a post-disaster medical response.