Social determinants of health

Facts: urban settings as a social determinant of health

Fact 1

Approximately one-third of the developing world’s urban population lives in slums, accounting for close to one-quarter of the total global urban population.

Photo: WHO/P.Virot

Fact 2

Globally, based on data from over 1600 cities, 88% of the urban population are exposed to PM10 or PM2.5 annual mean levels that exceed WHO Air Quality Guideline values. Air quality is poorest in the Eastern-Mediterranean and South-East Asian regions, followed by Latin America and African countries.

Fact 3

168 million children worldwide are child labourers, accounting for almost 11 per cent of the child population as a whole. In urban settings, child domestic labour is a predominant phenomen.

Photo: WHO/P.Virot

Fact 4

Children in the poorest 20% urban households of Africa, Americas, Asia and Europe are at least twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday than children in the richest quintile.

Photo: WHO/B.Peguillan

Fact 5

Globally, the number of cars and other light duty vehicles is projected to triple between 2000 and 2050; by 2030, the number of vehicles in developing nations is expected to exceed those in developed countries.

Illustration about road safety and air pollution in Viet Nam
WHO/WPRO/Chau Doan

Fact 6

92% of road traffic deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. These countries have only 53% of the world’s registered vehicles.

Photo: WHO/P.Virot

Fact 7

Both ‘mobile’ sources (e.g. cars) and ‘stationary’ sources (e.g. smoke stacks) make significant contributions to outdoor air pollution in urban areas. Some major sources include exhaust fumes from vehicles, emissions from manufacturing facilities (e.g. brick kilns), buildings (e.g. for space heating, cooking) and power generation (e.g. coal-fired power plants).

Black smoke is going out of the industrial chimneys, Moscow, Russia.
WHO/Sergey Volkov

Fact 8

One billion people worldwide with no sanitation facility whatsoever continue to practice open defecation, with no dignity or privacy. Although most of them live in rural areas, the number in urban areas is gradually increasing.

WHO/PAHO/Carlos Gaggero

Fact 9

The prevalence of stunting (moderate or severe) among the poorest 20% urban children is four times greater than among the richest 20% urban children in the Americas (including eight countries). In other regions, too, children in the poorest urban households are 2–3 times as likely to be stunted as children in the richest urban households.

WHO/Christopher Black

Fact 10

Although coverage of sanitation in urban areas has increased in the last decade, the population without sanitation in urban areas actually increased significantly by 215 million to 756 million in 2012, due to population growth outpacing the number of people who gained access to sanitation.

Open defecation
WHO/PAHO /Carlos Gaggero