International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

Toward a Socio-Territorial Approach to Health: Health Equity in West Africa

Document Type

Article

Abstract

This study contributes to the literature about the effects of space and place on health by introducing a socio-territorial approach to urban health disparities in West Africa. It explores how urban spaces, specifically neighbourhoods, are shaped by social and economic relations and strategies of territorial control. We examine the potential influence of socio-territorial processes on vulnerability to disease, access to medical care, healthscapes, and illness experiences. Our research was conducted in Senegal and relied on a mixed methods design. We identified four neighbourhoods that represent the socio-spatial heterogeneity of the city of Saint-Louis and utilized the following methods: geographic and anthropological field research, household surveys, health knowledge and behaviour surveys, clinical exams, and illness interviews. Our results highlight the socio-territorial processes at work in each neighbourhood, clinical findings on three health measures (overweight, high blood pressure, and hyperglycaemia) and health experiences of individuals with hypertension or type II diabetes. We found significant differences in the prevalence of the three health measures in the study sites, while experiences managing hypertension and diabetes were similar. We conclude that a socio-territorial approach offers insight into the complex constellation of forces that produce health disparities in urban settings.

Publication Title

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Publication Date

1-22-2017

Volume

14

Issue

1

ISSN

1661-7827

DOI

10.3390/ijerph14010106

Keywords

diabetes, health disparities, hypertension, socio-territorial approach, urban health, West Africa

Disciplines

Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology

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