UN chief spotlights health burdens on urban populations

10:02, April 08, 2010      

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As the world's population becomes increasingly urbanized, so too is the poverty burden, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday on the World Health Day, highlighting the need to address resulting public health challenges.

By mid-century, seven out of every 10 people will be city dwellers, up from just over 50 percent of the global population currently.

Developing countries will experience most of this growth, Ban said in his message for the Day. "Rapid, unplanned urbanization is expanding slums and informal settlements, and municipal authorities are struggling to cope."

He pointed to the many threats to public health posed by disparities in people's incomes, opportunities, living conditions and access to services, such as inadequate sanitation, industrial pollution, infectious disease, crime and violence.

"To a large extent these problems lie beyond the direct control of the health sector," the secretary-general said. "Improving urban health therefore requires sound policies across all areas of government and awareness among all sectors of society."

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