Professor Adenrele Awotona, director of the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters, delivered an invited keynote paper this August at the “International Conference on Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies” in London.
Awotona’s paper, titled “Slums of Despair, Global Disasters and Public Health,” examined the complex connections among people’s vulnerabilities to disasters, the ubiquity of slums, and the resilience of their plentiful dwellers globally, and public health.
He noted, “In spite of the various actions that have been taken by national governments and multilateral aid agencies to reduce the risk of disasters and their social, economic, and environmental impacts on slums, more far-reaching work still needs to be done, urgently. This is because the growth and persistence of slums in developing countries threaten public health and the national security of the United States.”
The United Nations has estimated that about one billion people currently live in urban slums worldwide and this will double by 2030. In fact, the Task Force on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers was specifically charged by the United Nations with developing plans to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020 within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals.
Professor Awotona also served as the chair of the conference and a member of the Organizing Scientific Committee.
The conference provided a global platform to scrutinize social science research on health, including anthropology, economics, geography, psychology, social epidemiology, social policy, sociology, and health care practice, policy, and organization. It also focused on social aspects of health and disease, the social behavior of patients and health care providers, the social functions of health organizations and institutions, the social patterns and the utilization of health services, the relationship of health care delivery systems to other social institutions, and social policies toward health.