By Chioma Obinna
The Lagos State government is stepping up efforts to mitigate the impact of urbanisation in Lagos even as the World Health Organisation said urban planning essential for the public health in the face of growing urbanisation.
State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris who expressed worry on the alarming influx of people into Lagos said the trend had contributed significantly to the urbanisation problems of the city through over-stretching of the infrastructures and amenities.
According to him, the expected health hazards were already evident in the state while the government and well – meaning stakeholders were making concerted efforts to mitigate the impact.
In recent times, there has been improved access to healthcare services, improved quality of care through effective service provision but to mitigate the health impact of urbanisation, strategies are in place focusing on all levels of care and in view of the magnitude of the disease burden associated with malaria.
The State has set up a research committee to look into how to drastically reduce the burden associated with malaria in view of the Lagos topography in the face of rapid urbanisation.
Idris noted that the day was set aside to raise awareness on the health challenges associated with urbanisation and the pressing need to address them through urban planning and inter-sectoral action, to promote action around the health risks with greatest impact on urbanisation, to demonstrate the need for local city governments to take responsibility and action for health in urban settings and thus creating a better quality of life for citizens amongst others.
He urged Lagosians to take responsibility for their health and said failure to address underlying factors of urbanisation could result in spiralling health costs as well as potential security issues for underserved population in all cities.
â€œIt is expected that all population growth in the next 30 years will be in urban areas. This growth is associated with many health challenges related to water, environment, violence and injury, non communicable diseases (NCDS) and their risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol as well as risks associated with disease outbreaks.â€ he stated.
In a statement to mark the World Health Day, the WHO admitted that urban settings have a direct impact on the health of the people who live there. Announcing that it is launching a campaign to highlight urban planning as a crucial link to building a healthy 21st century, it called on called on municipal authorities, concerned residents, advocates for healthy living and others to take a close look at health inequities in cities and take action.
A statement by the Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, said the world is rapidly urbanising with significant changes in living standards, lifestyles, social behaviour and health.
â€œIn general, urban populations are better off than their rural counterparts. They tend to have greater access to social and health services and their life expectancy is longer. But cities can also concentrate threats to health such as inadequate sanitation and refuse collection, pollution, road traffic accidents, outbreaks of infectious diseases and also unhealthy lifestyles.
â€œFive actions will significantly increase the chance people will be able to enjoy better urban living conditions: promote urban planning for healthy behaviours and safety, improve urban living conditions, ensure participatory governance, build inclusive cities that are accessible and age-friendly and make cities resilient to disasters and emergencies.
WHO Assistant Director- General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, Dr. Ala Alwan said â€œThe wide range of health issues in cities and its determinants require coordinated policies and actions across multiple disciplines including environment, transport, education, parks and recreation, and urban planning. We are at a critical turning point in history where we can make a difference.â€
She further intimated that coordinated policies and actions are also needed to address the underlying conditions of major health issues in cities today. For instance, outdoor urban air pollution kills some 1.2 million people worldwide.