Recognising the potential of citiesBMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7979 (Published 19 December 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7979
- David Satterthwaite, senior fellow1,
- Diana Mitlin, principal researcher1
- 1International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London WC1X 8NH, UK
Cities have never enjoyed a good reputation for health. In many African and Asian cities, health problems and life expectancies are still as bad as in 19th century cities in Europe and North America. Yet other cities have some of the world’s highest life expectancies.
Most of the world’s cities are now in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. But in Africa and Asia most governments and aid agencies ignore city problems. They fail to notice how many people now live in cities and how bad conditions are for much of the population—in hundreds of cities, a third or more of the population lives in illegal settlements that lack basic services. But it is increasingly evident that well functioning cities are key to wealthier more resilient economies. Rapid economic growth in Brazil, India, and China has been underpinned by successful cities. Cities attract new investment because of economies of agglomeration, including infrastructure and service provision, a large diverse labour force, and sizeable consumer markets.
There is …