Plan to tackle ills of urban lifestyle

2010-04-13 00:00

THE Health Department has called for the recognition of the effect of urbanisation on people’s health.

In commemoration of World Health Day last week, Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said the focus needs to be on urbanisation and health hazards faced by urban dwellers, which can result in spiralling health costs.

He said the health problems of the urban poor include communicable diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/Aids, and an increased risk of violence and chronic diseases.

“We wish to highlight that urban growth has outpaced the ability of government to build essential infrastructure and enact and enforce the legislation needed to make life in cities safe, rewarding, and healthy.

“Cities also tend to promote unhealthy lifestyles like cheap, convenient diets of processed foods rich in fats and sugar, yet low in essential nutrients.”

Dhlomo said that the threats to health are multiple, from inadequate sanitation and refuse collection to pollution and accidents from congested traffic.

“Children playing barefoot in soil or water contaminated by untreated waste are affected, as this results in the outbreak of infectious diseases that thrive on filth and crowded conditions,” said Dhlomo in a statement.

He said lifestyle changes are directly linked to obesity and the rise of chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, adding that the conditions are costly to treat.

The government has introduced the Joint Cluster Flagship Programme, which brings together all levels of government, community-based organisations and individuals to ensure that these issues are dealt with.

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