Urban Health in Johannesburg: Migration, Exclusion and Inequality

Vearey, J. (2017). Urban Health in Johannesburg: Migration, Exclusion and Inequality. Urban Forum. Doi:10.1007/s12132-017-9306-3. [Open access: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12132-017-9306-3]

Compared to their rural counterparts, cities are assumed to be spaces of improved access to livelihood opportunities and basic services—including healthcare, of better health outcomes, and of an extended life expectancy. At an aggregate level, this is often true but disaggregation of urban health indicators and outcomes within cities uncovers hidden intra-urban inequalities that clearly demonstrate that access to the urban benefit is unevenly distributed—in unjust, inequitable ways. Cities of the global south—including Johannesburg—are associated with unplanned and unmanaged urban growth; poor urban governance (which is predominantly reactive rather than proactive); migration and mobility; and the resultant pressure on access to adequate services, including water, sanitation, housing, and healthcare. As a result, urban poor groups—including internal and cross-border migrants—who reside on the periphery of city welfare systems struggle to access the benefits of urban living. This leads to a large (majority) city population who fails to access the positive social determinants of urban health and, as a result, faces an urban health penalty (Freudenberg et al. 2005). Authorities responsible for cities in the global south are faced with increasingly complex, interlinked urban health challenges that affect different urban residents in different ways and require appropriate, localised, multi-sectoral, and multi-level responses (Vearey 2011).

About Jo Vearey

Jo Vearey is a Professor and the Director of the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand. She holds an Honorary Fellowship with the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, and a Senior Fellowship at the Centre for Peace, Development and Democracy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. In 2015, Jo was awarded a Humanities and Social Science Wellcome Trust Investigator Award. Jo holds a MSc in the Control of Infectious Diseases (LSHTM, 2003), a PhD in Public Health (Wits, 2010), and has been rated by the National Research Foundation as a Young Researcher. In 2014 and 2015, Jo received a Friedel Sellschop Award from the University of the Witwatersrand for outstanding young researchers. She was a Marie Curie Research Fellow in 2013, at the UNESCO Chair on Social and Spatial Inclusion of Migrants, University of Venice (SSIM-IUAV), Venice, Italy.

With a commitment to social justice and the development of pro-poor policy responses, Jo’s research explores international, regional, national and local responses to migration, health, and urban vulnerabilities. Her research interests focus on urban health, public health, migration and health, the social determinants of health, HIV, informal settlements and sex work. Jo is particularly interested in knowledge production, dissemination and utilisation including the use of visual and arts-based methodologies.

Jo has a range of international collaborations, including an ESRC-NRF funded project with the University of Edinburgh, a WOTRO funded project with the VU University, Amsterdam on migration and sex work, and partnerships with the University of Massachusetts Boston and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine‘s Faculty of Public Health and Policy and Gender, Violence and Health Unit.

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