For public health services to respond to the growing burden of NCDs among the urban poor, the proper measurement of disease prevalence, risk factors and behaviours is a crucial first step. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), household surveys – such as the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) programme and the World Health Organization’s Stepwise Approach to Surveillance (STEPS) – provide vital data sources to inform national health sector planning in over 90 LMIC countries. However, the way these surveys are currently designed and presented undermines their use by decision-makers to monitor inter- and intra-urban health and plan interventions, and particularly to respond to the health needs of the poorest. The under-representation of the urban poor in these surveys means that health issues they experience are masked by the better health outcomes among the urban wealthy. This provides an overly rosy picture of urban health.
Our GCRF Foundation Award aims to address these problems by testing novel survey sampling and mapping approaches, piloting questionnaires on mental health and injuries, exploring the nature and definitions of urban poverty and households and working closely with urban-health decision-makers to find the best ways to present and use the data we collect.