Health, Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda
Urbanization has become one of the most important global trends of the twenty-first century, and according to OECD recent research, its impacts will be more keenly felt than climate change in the immediate future. Investing in good urbanization is a guarantee of prosperity and development, particularly in developing countries, where major urban transformations will inevitably take place. There is still a strong focus on curing the sick rather than prevention. Globally, approximately one third of diseases are the result of environmental factors, with children being some of the most vulnerable. If we consider the multiple risk factors that some communities live in (slums for example), the figures are most likely much higher. The disease burden is mainly due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), however infectious diseases still account for a significant proportion and should not be neglected. As a priority, urgent analyses using the SDGs framework (and the UN-Habitat sample cities) of the health status in cities, disaggregated and overlaid with socio-economic profiles are needed. A city by city analysis of the problems and solutions driven by the urban authorities, together with a realization that many of the interventions that frame and support health improvements come from outside the health sector, is an important starting point. Localised plans of action for “sanitary revolutions” to reduce communicable diseases and campaigns to combat NCDs led by improved urban design and continuous monitoring need urgent attention.
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