Health care for urban poor falls through the gap

Priya Shetty
The Lancet, Volume 377, Issue 9766, Pages 627 – 628, 19 February 2011

While governments and donors focus on health care for those living in rural poverty in developing countries, the residents of the world’s slums are being neglected, writes Priya Shetty.The slums of Mumbai and the favelas of Rio de Janeiro are images of urban poverty so extreme that they are indelibly stamped on the identity of those cities. But urban poverty now goes far beyond these notorious icons.

The world is becoming more urbanised overall (figure). 2008 was a demographic turning point—for the first time, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), more people lived in urban areas than in rural ones. Yet these new urbanites, especially in developing countries, are overwhelming cities that were never designed to have so many inhabitants, and therefore simply do not have the infrastructure to cope.

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