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New Book Examines Health Challenges for the Rapidly Urbanizing Planet.

November 10, 2015

Toronto – By the year 2100, eight out of ten people in the world will reside in cities – a major change in demographics compared to 100 years ago. An important new book identifies and examines wide-scale health challenges facing a rapidly urbanizing planet-- natural disaster, obesity, urban planning, migration, environmental pollution — and also discusses strategies toward possible solutions.

Innovating for Healthy Urbanization is edited by three experts with deep experience in global health issues. The book argues that using the “innovations” lens can provide a unique platform through which solutions for urbanization and health can emerge.

“Sometimes “innovations” can be decidedly high tech, such as holograms on medication packaging that protect against drug counterfeiters, or tiny filter paper tests costing pennies that exponentially increase access to medical diagnostic testing for poor people living in cities,” note editors Roy Ahn, Thomas F. Burke and Anita McGahan. “ Other innovations are less tech-focused, but equally impactful, such as advocating for motorcycle helmet laws in cities or a low-cost, condom catheter-balloon kit that can save mothers from dying from postpartum hemorrhage.”

For each challenge addressed by the book, contributors discuss implications for health, specific practices that fuel them, and emerging ideas for solving them efficiently and effectively. Not only are these issues of immediate importance, they will become increasingly urgent in the future.  Challenges addressed include:

  • Food fortification and other innovations to address child malnutrition.
  • Anti-trafficking innovations, urbanization, and global health.
  • Innovations to address global climate change in cities.
  • Innovations in disaster preparedness: implications for urbanization and health.
  • Medical diagnostic innovations in urban developing settings.
  • The case for comprehensive, integrated, and standardized measures of health in cities.

Roy Ahn, ScD, is a public health researcher and associate director, Division of Global Health and Human Rights, Department of Emergency Medicine, at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Thomas F. Burke, MD, FACEP, FRSM, is chief of the Division of Global Health and Human Rights, Department of Emergency Medicine, as well as a practicing emergency physician, at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He is also associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Burke was the founding director of the MGH Center for Global Health, and is internationally recognized for his work on innovations for health transformation.

Anita M. McGahan, PhD, is a professor of strategic management and Rotman Chair in Management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. She is cross appointed to the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Physiology Department of the Medical School. In 2014, McGahan joined the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance.


Innovating for Healthy Urbanization
Springer, 2015
ISBN 978-1-4899-7597-3
333 pages, 50 illustrations, 48 illustrations in colour
For more information:

Ken McGuffin

Manager, Media Relations
Rotman School of Management
University of Toronto
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