The health challenge in emerging market cities
Former PM of Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz calls for the reinvention of urban and rural public health, but at what cost?
April 4, 2011 10:05 by Arab News
Even as the disease burden in emerging-market cities shifts from infectious to chronic illnesses, urban populations remain vulnerable to epidemic diseases, childhood diseases born of malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and mental disorders rooted in unemployment and poverty. They are also vulnerable to death and injury from natural disasters and traffic accidents – and to the health consequences of social disorder and breakdown.
The speed of urban growth and the resulting concentration of poverty have overwhelmed the capacity of some national and municipal governments to provide services – sustainable and affordable housing, clean water and sanitation, and education – essential to urban public health. But the concentration of people and economic activity in emerging-market cities and megacities does offer invaluable opportunities of scale for building health-related infrastructure and delivering health-care services.
Several steps should be taken. Emerging-market governments must address critical issues arising from weak coordination within, and between, national and municipal governments on health and health-care policies and programs. They should consider reforms that include giving city governments the authority, resources and responsibility that they need to address health and healthcare outcomes.
Anticipatory city planning, based on realistic demographic forecasts, patient registers, and health-information systems as well as participation in urban health-knowledge networks needs to be implemented. Proven systems and reforms should be shared between emerging-market cities, and successful new innovations and ideas should be adapted to local conditions.