Urbanization and health - An overview
Background: The rapid increase in the number of people living in urban areas is among the most important global health issues of the 21st century. Also, most developing countries are facing the task of planning and ensuring a sustainable, sane and healthy development of cities.
Objective: To review the relationship between urbanization and health with emphasis on approach and options for the promotion of healthy behaviours and safety.
Methodology: The main sources of information were online journals, Pub Med/Medline and Google. Additionally, publications from the World Health Organisation and public libraries were consulted for articles on urbanization and its impacts on health.
Results: The health of urban populations has changed as cities have evolved as a result of such factors as features of the social environment, the physical environment, and provision of and access to health and social services. The urban context of particular cities may also affect health as well as modify the effect that unexpected stressors have on a city. Reliable urban health statistics are largely unavailable globally. However, available data indicate a range of urban health hazards and associated health risks that cut across different sectors, including health, environment, energy, transportation and urban planning.
Conclusions: Governments are grappling with the challenges posed by the speed at which urbanization has outpaced their ability to provide essential infrastructure. There is need for planned urbanization to help avert the negative effects of urban living on health.