WHO/UN-HABITAT Report Documents Health Disparities Facing Women In Developing Country Urban Areas

Womens News Network/Guardian Development Network examines a WHO/United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) report released last week that highlighted the health disparities affecting populations living in urban areas. The article focuses on the impact of urban poverty on women’s health, noting: “Women suffering under poverty are especially sensitive to impacts of urbanisation as statistics show women in densely populated areas have a 1.5 times higher rate of HIV/AIDS than men. Women in cities also face higher dangers of contracting AIDS, a figure almost twice as high as their rural sisters” (11/23).

The WHO/UN-HABITAT report was “based on a new analysis that looks beyond city averages or beyond the usual information from cities and towns to identify hidden pockets of ill-health and social deprivation,” according a WHO news release. Such analysis “reveals inequities by looking at subgroups of city dwellers according to their socioeconomic status, neighbourhood or other population characteristics,” the release states (11/17).

“On the edge of the global economic shakedown, as numerous cities and urban areas suffer from rising population, women who suffer from poverty experience greater encounters with overcrowded substandard housing, infectious diseases, food and water safety issues, inadequate sanitation and increasing solid waste disposal problems,” Womens News Network/Guardian Development Network continues. The article describes the growing populations in urban slums in developing nations, and the challenges such trends present for women in developing countries (11/23).

Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, said in the WHO new release, “To better understand the causes of poor health, the report focuses on several factors including population dynamics, urban governance, the natural and built environment, the social and economic environment, and access to services and health emergency management.”

The WHO release adds: “The report notes that unless urgent action is taken to address urban health inequities, countries will not achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Targets are set for countries as a whole but cities are crucial parts of the equation, as now half of the world’s population lives in cities” (11/17).

“Opportunities to put health at the heart of the urban policy agenda exists, and it is time for all sectors to work together toward innovative and effective solutions that mitigate health risks and increase health benefits,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, according to Womens News Network/Guardian Development Network (11/23).

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