2014 lecturer was Dr Manuel Carballo, Executive Director of the International Centre for Migration, Health and Development (ICMHD) in Switzerland.

This was the fifth lecture in the series, inaugurated in memory of Alison Chesney and Eddie Killoran, who both died within 6 months of one another, in 2006. Both were well known and respected figures in the drugs field over many years and are still much missed by family, friends and colleagues alike. The lectures are given by leading figures in the field of public health and focus on issues related to harm reduction and health improvement amongst often neglected populations.

Dr Carballo spoke on Changing Urban Profiles and Implications for Health. In his lecture he explored the changing landscape in our cities and the respective contributions and needs of the communities that live in them. Watch the lecture video here.

Migration and urbanisation have always gone hand in hand. Cities have always grown more as a result of in-migration than through natural demographic development. Today the pace of urban growth in developing countries is accelerating so rapidly that in the coming decade more than 60% of the world’s population will be concentrated in cities. Even in developed countries where the growth of cities had until recently been considered a fact of the past, migration is now not only serving to replenish low-fertility populations, but is also changing the social, demographic and health character of cities. To what extent city authorities and national policy makers have been able or willing to respond pro-actively to this emerging reality is not clear, but what is now evident is that most megalopolises in developing countries are no longer capable of managing their new demographic loads. The social and health character of cities is suffering and in some instances is deteriorating so that health in cities is not better and at times worse that in the poor rural areas people are fleeing from. In Europe the health profile of cities, or at least parts of cities, is falling behind and new poor health and disease permutations are emerging. Some of these, if left unattended and unplanned for, could become major public health challenges in the future.

Against this backdrop Dr Carballo highlights examples of how challenges have been addressed and outline the how levels of ‘cultural competence’ can contribute to successful outcomes.

Born in Gibraltar, Dr Carballo studied in the UK. In a distinguished career he has worked with the United Nations and World Health Organization in a number of countries. His areas of expertise extend to HIV/AIDS, post-conflict and disaster relief and reconstruction and refugee crisis response and management. In 1995 he set up the International Centre for Migration and Health, a Swiss based research and training organisation, and has continued his work through this. He is also adjunct Professor of Clinical Public Health at the Columbia School of Public Health, in the US.