As part of this year's World Health Day, the WHO on Wednesday will launch a program to encourage cities to become more healthy to help mitigate the health risks associated with rapid urbanization, Agence France Presse/Inquirer.net Global Nation reports. "The world's urban population passed 3 billion in 2007, exceeding the rural population for the first time, according to the United Nations. By 2030, 60 percent of the world's growing population is expected to live in cities," the news service writes. The global campaign hopes to attract "1,000 cities to 'open up public spaces to health,' by closing off portions of streets to traffic, to encourage exercise in parks and clean-up campaigns," the news service writes.
The article includes comments by WHO official Lori Sloate, who described the health risks associated with living in an urban environment as a "triple threat" due to high rates of infectious diseases, chronic disease and an increased concentration of violence and crime in cities. Poverty can also exacerbate the health risks in urban environments, the news service notes.
"The idea [of the World Health Day campaign] was to mobilize the efforts of cities and to focus on the importance of municipal leadership in addressing health problems," Sloate said (4/5).