Health Research Program

Urban Health Community

Welcome to the Urban Health in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) Community of Practice (CoP)! Here you will find a vibrant online discussion community on maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) in urban settings in sub-Saharan Africa, monthly webinars, opportunities for south–to–south exchange and technical assistance, and an online exchange platform where members will have the opportunity to discuss with leading experts.

Please explore this page for valuable tools and best practices in implementation research to improve health for mothers, newborns, and children in urban settings in SSA.

What We’re Reading

Making the case

A decade ago, African urbanization was heralded as a driver for improved health status through access to social services and improved prospects for economic progress. However, the reality in SSA is more complicated and challenging, with over 50% of urban residents living in informal settlements in some settings. By 2050, the SSA population is forecasted to be 2 billion with the urban population exceeding 1 billion. Although health outcomes across urban areas of SSA may be better for some populations as compared to rural populations, there are significant gaps in knowledge about intra-urban health disparities, access to health services, and effective models to serve the needs of the urban and peri-urban poor.

Despite research and practice groups that peripherally address urban health issues, there remains a lack of research and understanding of how to deliver effective programs that address the spectrum of challenges facing mothers, newborns, and children under five in urban areas of low and middle-income countries. There is a need for programmers, policy-makers, researchers, donors, and the private sector to come together to learn from each other, apply learnings, and share broad lessons to accelerate learning and better practices around this topic.

Conceptual framework

Comprehensive approaches to improve MNCH outcomes for vulnerable urban populations will require a multi-level approach, identifying and leveraging enabling factors while also addressing/responding to contextual factors. Figure 1 illustrates the conceptual framework that highlights how individual, household, community, and institutional factors interact to influence health in the context of the urban setting. This framework was developed by the Office of Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition, USAID to explore the factors influencing health in an urban environment.

Source: Health Research Program, USAID


The Urban Health Community of Practice (CoP) provides a place where members can exchange technical knowledge, share resources and experiences, ask and answer questions, find opportunities for south-to-south exchanges and technical assistance, and connect people who might not ordinarily interact. We host regular webinars on urban health and an online exchange platform where you will have the opportunity to discuss with leading experts.


Below are links to articles and resources to help policymakers and program implementers identify strategies and approaches for using an implementation research approach to improve MNCH in urban SSA.

Urban Health



Implementation Research

USAID Publications