India is witnessing rapid urbanisation in the face of the world. It is predicted that by 2030, India can see 40% of its population living in urban areas. However, with urbanisation comes the proper management system in place to prevent urban health problems in India. People who live in the cities will look to get better opportunities for employment, public services and education.
But due to a lack of resources in the current scenario, the urban public doesn’t have access to adequate housing facilities, transportation, sanitation and a disposable waste system. All these could positively lead to various health challenges and health inequities. Let’s get to know what health challenges urbanisation can bring in India and what strategies can be implemented for the country to attain success in achieving universal health coverage and improving national health indices.
What are the various urban health risks in India?
Urbanisations can be associated with many health hazards, and the foremost challenge is adequate access to water and sanitation, green spaces, non-communicable diseases and various risk factors. Climate change in urban areas can be rather dangerous as they emit many pollutants due to increased energy use. Here are the major risk factors:
Housing-related health risks
Housing facilities in India are characterised by poor quality housing in overcrowded and inadequate ventilated spaces. It is one of the key urban health problems in India. Smart city mission urban health programme in India launched in 2015 is made to develop cities that are more citizen friendly and sustainable with proper healthcare infrastructure in place. There should be no poor sanitation and hygiene conditions in housing to increase the risk of infectious diseases.
India is home to some of the most polluted cities in the world, and air pollution has been linked to a range of health problems. Some of the major sources are due to poor traffic management, vehicle emissions, construction activities and industrial emissions.
Green space unavailability
Urbanisation may lead to a decline in green spaces. Green spaces help with promoting physical activities, enhance a pleasant atmosphere, and boost mental health and relaxation. Moreover, they are developed to decrease noise and air pollution to keep the city cool. Urban areas can have the risk of non-communicable diseases and other urban health risk factors due to insufficient green spaces.
Poor waste management and unsafe drinking water and sanitation
Poor waste management practices in urban areas can lead to the accumulation of garbage and sewage, which can attract disease-carrying vectors. Another factor for urban health problems in India is the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities access. This can lead to diseases like cholera and typhoid fever.
Limited access to primary healthcare
Although many efforts are made to improve access to health care in India, the urban areas still lack adequate facilities. People in urban cities need robust urban health programmes to prevent any delayed diagnosis of disease and treatment of illness.
Strategies to build healthy and sustainable urban areas
Sustainable urban planning
The first and foremost strategy is to plan the urbanisation design to ensure the cities are built with sustainability to existing for a long period of time. The infrastructure should be energy-efficient and focus on public transportation, cycling and walking. Green spaces should be included in the planning process to prevent non-communicable urban health problems in India with improved air quality and space for recreation.
Slums are the major features of various urban areas. Hence, the next strategy needs to be the upgradation of slum areas to build healthy and sustainable urban areas with basic amenities like clean water, sanitation facilities, and access to comprehensive primary health care services.
Improving urban waste management
Poor urban waste management is another key risk factor for urban health problems in India. Hence, Effective waste management is crucial for creating healthy and sustainable urban areas. The urban health program should include reducing waste formation, recycling waste and disposing of them efficiently.
Urbanisation in a country is a roadmap for its success. But if not managed properly, it can become a disaster for the country’s socio-economic landscape. Hence, India needs to plan its urbanisation strategies with a proper urban health plan in place and build the infrastructures to be healthier, safe, green and resilient for the future aspects.