Urban Poverty and Health in Developing Countries

This publication from the Population Reference Bureau, provides a sketch of urban health in developing countries, documenting the intra-urban differences in health for a number of countries and showing how the risks facing the urban poor compare with those facing rural villagers. It begins with an overview of the multiple dimensions of urban poverty and a summary of internationally comparable evidence on the urban health differentials associated with poverty. The author notes that to better understand urban health in developing countries, the situations of the urban poor and near-poor must be distinguished from those of other city residents.

The author finds that even among the urban poor, some live in communities of concentrated disadvantage (slums) where they are subjected to a daily barrage of health threats; and others are dispersed across a variety of neighborhoods. Although modern health services would appear to be near at hand, the author finds that the poor do not necessarily have access to these services. Even when the poor are able to reach modern services, the quality of care they receive can be grossly inadequate.

The author recommends geographic targeting as an effective health strategy for reaching slum dwellers, though other approaches will need to be devised to meet the needs of the poor who live outside slums. Since the health needs of small-city residents – who account for the vast majority of urban dwellers – cannot continue to be neglected, the author argues that public health agencies need to work in tandem with other government agencies and that public health programmes should draw on the social capital that is embodied in the associations of the urban poor.

Source: eldis.org
Authors: M. R. Montgomery
Publisher: Population Reference Bureau , 2009

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