The Hub Community on "Global Urban Health" releases a new policy brief highlighting the opportunities and challenges for human health in cities worldwide and formulates corresponding recommendations for action.
Need for health to be prioritized in urban planning and urban development
The world's population is rapidly moving towards urban areas. Overcrowding, pollution, and noise in urban environments are making people sick all over the world. Due to Delhi’s air pollution, the city’s inhabitants ingest pollutants equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Worldwide, urban environments also make people sick – physically and mentally – due to isolation, urban anonymity, lack of access to healthy food, noise, and stress.
The brief highlights that cities offer opportunities for health such as the efficient development of hygiene standards and the introduction of comprehensive water supply and sanitation. Cities can become spaces of opportunity that enable healthy lifestyles and health equity, through health-promoting urban development.
The key messages of the brief are:
- Health must be prioritized in urban planning and urban development.
- Each city must set its priorities for improving urban health on the basis of a “city diagnosis.”
- Cities need an integrated health management oriented towards the guiding principle of structural prevention.
The brief also stresses that cities need an integrated urban health management approach. This must include regular monitoring and a health-promoting design of urban landscapes. An integrated urban health management approach takes into account global transformation processes, including climate change, demographic ageing, and globalization, with urban development embedded in larger policy frameworks.
The policy brief concludes that a transdisciplinary approach, with knowledge sharing between science, administrations, and civil society is essential for the creation of healthy living spaces in cities. Health must not be reduced to disease prevention, but should create the framework conditions for healthy lifestyles, high quality of life, and well-being for all urban residents.
The three key messages are further translated into actor-specific recommendations for action at the end of this policy paper.
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