Local health observatories

Urban health observatories: A possible solution to filling a gap in public health intelligence

A local health observatory’s objective is to address the challenges of understanding the multiple factors that influence health, and the dispersed and uncoordinated nature of data. In general, they act as:

  • A focal point for local monitoring, collecting, analyzing and managing information on urban health challenges; and,
  • A partnership with a network of actors/stakeholders to understand determinants of urban health in order to support decision-making and better informed policies.

However, they exist in different forms and depending on their location are nested within different institutions such as government, academia, non-government and private sector. Here are three examples of local health observatories.


Name of observatory Key partners Mission
Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, Spain • Consorci Sanitari de Barcelona
• Municipalities of Catalonia
• Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces
• The Provincial Council of Barcelona
•To develop public health activities with a high degree of interaction with service activities
•To use the health information system to support health services planning
Belo Horizonte Observatory for Urban Health (OSUBH), Brazil • Federal University of Minas Gerais
• Belo Horizonte Municipality
• To improve public health services at both individual and community levels
• To enable the implementation of specific intervention strategies and policies
London Health Observatory (LHO, England) • NHS
• Local authorities
• The GLA
• Researchers and national agencies
• To provide information that policy makers and practitioners need to improve health and health care
• To support the development of health intelligence professionals
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