By 2050, 66% of the world's population is projected to be urban. Cities are magnets for people uprooted from rural areas, who hope to find a better livelihood in the city - with far-reaching consequences for overburdened health services. Swiss TPH studies the health effects casued by urbanisation - in low-income settings in Africa as well as in wealthy countries in Europe. Experts investigate environmental exposures such as noise or air pollution, they help to improve water and sanitation facilities or study the often fatal co-occurence of infectious and chronic diseases.
Double Burden of Disease
City dwellers in low-income countries are exposed to a double risk. Air pollution leads to respiratory diseases and many middle-class people suffer from "diseases of civilisation" like diabetes or heart diseases. At the same time, the "classical" infectious diseases remain, and are rapidly propagated. Urban irrigation schemes are ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes transmitting malaria, the lack of clean drinking water is the casue of diarrhoeal disease and the complex sociocultural environment of the city makes it an area of high risk for infection with HIV and tuberculosis.
Reduction of Rabies: Successful Vaccination Campaign
In two mass vaccination campaigns in N'Djamena, Chad, Swiss TPH experts vaccinated more than 40'000 dogs against rabies. This corresponds to 70% of all animals living in the capital city. Such high vaccination coverage was only achievable through close collaboration with local decision-makers, veterinarians and dog owners. As a result, rabies cases in dogs decreased by 90% within a year.
Risk of Water Pollution in Uganda
An examination of water, sediment and soil samples in Kampala, Uganda, revealed alarming levels of contamination with heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and chrome. Furthermore, high numbers of worm eggs and intestinal bacteria were found in the samples. The authors warn that farmers and consumers of locally produced vegetables are exposed to increased health risks.