Urban planning and health inequities: Looking in a small-scale in a city of Cape Verde

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Abstract

© 2015 Gonçalves et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background: The lack of high-quality data to support evidence-based policies continues to be a concern in African cities, which present marked social, economic and cultural disparities that may differently impact the health of the groups living in different urban contexts. This study explores three urban units-formal, transition and informal-of the capital of Cape Verde, in terms of overweight/obesity, cardiometabolic risk, physical activity and other aspects related to the urban environment. Methods: Quantitative and qualitative research methods were used in this intra-urban study. A proportional stratified random sample (n = 1912 adults), based on geographical coordinates of private households, was selected to apply the UPHI-STAT questionnaire. In a second stage (n = 599), local nutritionists collected anthropometric measurements (e.g., height, waist circumference) and body composition by bioelectric impedance (e.g., body weight, body fat, muscle mass). In a third stage, pedometers were used to count study participants' steps on working and non-working days for one week (n = 118). After a preliminary statistical analysis, a qualitative study was developed to complement the quantitative approach. Generalized linear models, among others, were used in the multivariate analysis. Results: Insecurity was the main concern among survey respondents in the three units, notwithstanding with significant differences (p < 0.001) among units. About three-quarters (76.6%) of the participants of the informal unit emphasised the need for more security. The formal unit presents an older age structure (61.3% above 40 years old) and the transition unit a younger age structure (only 30.5% above 40 years old). Some health-related variables were analysed in each unit, revealing an excess of chronic conditions reported by inhabitants of informal unit, compared with the formal unit despite the informal unit's younger age profile. The self-reported hypertension varied significantly among urban units (p < 0.001), with 19.3%in the formal unit, 11.4%in the transition unit and 22.5%in the informal unit. Women of the urban units present significant differences (5% level) for body mass index calculated from self-reported measures (p < 0.001), fat mass (p = 0.005), waist circumference (p = 0.046) and waist-to-height ratio (p = 0.017). For women, overall physical activity was 67.4% (95%CI [64.8,70.0]), with differences among urban units (p = 0.025). For men it was of 85.2% (95%CI [82.3,87.6]), without significant differences among urban units (p = 0.266). The percentage of women and men who reported physical activity in leisure time was discrepant, with 95%CI [22.6, 27.4] and [53.2, 60.2], respectively. The results of pedometers also indicated that men walk significantly more than women (p < 0.001), with a difference of approximately 2000 steps/day. Conclusions: The data collection process itself also gave us some clues on the involvement of local communities, exploring the potential of social capital of these settings and the role of the woman in family and society in Cape Verde. The higher participation of women and residents of informal unit (the most disadvantaged groups) suggests these as the priority target groups for health promotion campaigns. The link between health planning, urban planning and security of the city needs to be reinforced to minimize health, social and gender inequalities.

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Gonçalves, L., Santos, Z., Amado, M., Alves, D., Simões, R., Delgado, A. P., … Craveiro, I. (2015). Urban planning and health inequities: Looking in a small-scale in a city of Cape Verde. PLoS ONE, 10(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0142955

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