Countries in the Region of the Americas, with support from PAHO/WHO, will carry out a series of actions to improve health conditions in cities, where nearly 80 percent of the hemisphere’s population resides.
Health ministers from the member countires, gathered in Washington, D.C., this week for the 51st Directing Council meeting of PAHO/WHO, today approved the Strategy and Plan of Action on Urban Health.
The strategy responds to the need for adoption of multisector measures to address the health impact of changes in urban life, particularly rapid and unplanned urbanization. It will address such issues as air and noise pollution, climate change, healthy lifestyles, healthy environments, spaces for recreation and physical activity, human security, inclusive urbanization, urban infrastructure, and violence.
Unplanned urban growth puts pressure on basic services and makes it difficult for governments to meet the needs of urban residents. This in turn increases risks related to environmental, social, and epidemiological factors and disasters, affecting the safety of the population.
In 1950, 29.1 percent of the world’s population (732 million people) lived in urban areas. By 2008, for the first time in history, more than half the world’s population was living in urban areas, according to the United Nations. That proportion is expected to increase to 70 percent by 2050.