Quick facts on urban health

  • Over half the world’s population now lives in cities, and urbanization will be among the most important global health challenges during the 21st century.
  • By 2030, 6 out of every 10 people around the globe will be city dwellers, rising to 7 out of 10 by 2050.
  • In the WHO European Region, 70% of the population lives in urban areas.
  • Urbanization is associated with many health challenges – infectious diseases and noncommunicable diseases, including cancer and heart disease – as well as unhealthy life choices such as tobacco use and alcohol abuse.
  • City dwellers are more exposed to road traffic accidents, injuries, violence and crime.
  • The urban poor suffer disproportionately from a wide range of diseases and other health challenges.

To reverse this trend, representatives of local and national governments are urged to develop policies to protect and promote health, across multiple sectors, including the environment, transport, education and urban planning.