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Health challenges in urbanizing Africa and win-win partnership
Marieke van Winden (conference organiser) (African Studies Centre Leiden)
Maria Yazdanbakhsh (LUMC)
Jan Nouwen (Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam)
D: Cases of regional and disciplinary specifics


Africa is urbanising at high speed. The urban population of Africa has been growing rapidly, from about 27% in 1950 to 40% in 2015 and projected to reach 60% by 2050 (UN-DESA, 2014). The cities in Africa are centers of innovation, and inspiration, while its rural areas, although sources of biodiversity, are mostly left behind and face infectious diseases that contribute to a downward spiral of poverty. The Netherlands is a highly urbanized country, struggling to keep a sustainable level of biodiversity. Health as one of the most important common goods that we have, is also strongly affected by urbanization. While our urbanizing world is facing diseases such as autoimmune, allergies, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, in the rural areas in Africa (and elsewhere) morbidity and mortality as a result of poverty-related and neglected diseases are unacceptably high. The innovative spirit in urbanising Africa, and the strong health sector in the Netherlands, can provide a highly fertile ground for a win-win situation for us both to develop medical solutions. Towards this concept, we will discuss models of cooperation, where we can focus on : 1- shared problems such as diabetes, cardio-metabolic or cancer, largely affecting urban centers; 2- emerging problems such as antibiotic resistance, which does not stop at borders; 3- neglected and poverty related problems such as malaria and TB as well as other parasitic infections that are associated with malnutrition in rural areas. With this cooperation we expect to contribute to societal (the UN sustainable development goals - SDGs 1, 3, 4, and 6) as well as to economic impact and improvement of welfare in Africa and in the Netherlands. Healthier people at an affordable cost will be consequences that we will achieve together.