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Dhaka ICUH: New urban health agenda urgently needed

Over 50% of the world’s inhabitants reside in cities. The huge challenges this rapid global urbanization poses to health were addressed at the 12th International Conference for Urban Health (ICUH 2015) in Dhaka, Bangladesh from May 24-27, 2015

Over 50% of the world’s inhabitants reside in cities. The huge challenges this rapid global urbanization poses to health were addressed at the 12th International Conference for Urban Health (ICUH 2015) in Dhaka, Bangladesh from May 24-27, 2015

In an ultracomplex megapole like Dhaka, the social consequences of rapid urban sprawl are all too manifest. They inspired the participants from around the world to focus with vigour on urban health for a sustainable future. In the background were the ongoing UN post-2015 and Habitat III negotiations, in which new global sustainable development goals are proposed to address urbanization more effectively.

Over a thousand experts attended from academic centers, public health and civil-society organizations, international and local development agencies and political institutions. Many speakers expressed a huge sense of urgency around drafting more effective strategies to deal with urban issues: the pressures of population growth, the backlog of basic infrastructure development, the dire consequences economic deprivation in many places, issues of urban logistics and traffic, water and air-management, the problems surrounding privatization and challenges to public space, the compromised governance arrangements and basic service delivery gaps.

Much attention was also devoted to the necessity of deeper political commitment and new roles of different stakeholders, notably of communities. The conference underscored the importance of comparing local settings and developing local sensitivity. Participants also stressed the importance of new urban public health research. Several panels revisited a number of theoretical and methodological questions – e.g. regarding the empirical basis of many studies and surveys, the difficulties of data gathering and management.

RGHI director Van Heteren took part in the plenary panel ‘Actions on Social Determinants’, which debated how to move to action on tackling socioeconomic and environmental hazards in urban health and equity.

A Dhaka Declaration was drafted. The final version of this document will be posted shortly.

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RGHI AdministratorDhaka ICUH: New urban health agenda urgently needed
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