With more than half the global population living in the urban centres, according to Health Organisation estimates, the picture becomes very grim when the health concerns of the urban dwellers, particularly in the least developed countries, come into focus. The migration from the rural to the urban areas is necessitated with growing opportunities but at the cost of quality of life for the majority. This is what the focus was when the health experts came to urge the governments to invest in pro-poor policies and strategies to reduce the urban equity gap. This might be seen as a simple formula to get things right, but with the governments concerned for the most part facing paucity of funds for the said purpose, the situation may not improve for many more yeas to come despite the realization. The supporting fact that 40 per cent of the urban populace in South Asia live in slums comes as a jolt. With such revelation coming forth, the health conditions of the slum dwellers in particular and the urban people in general send out warning signals. To ameliorate the situation campaigns from the governments concerned have to be forthcoming, but, with the recession and the climate change that is evident, the economy of a least developed country like Nepal can barely sustain itself.
Urbanisation is a result of development, but when priorities are misplaced the sufferers emerge as those who opted for the cities. But, unplanned urbanization is what has ground in the LDCs that explains the loss of a healthy life and dignity for the majority. The biggest problem that confronts the urban centres is related to adequate supply of potable water. In fact, the demand-supply equation of water has tilted because of varied reasons like rapidly growing population for which the supporting infrastructure are basically primitive. It has been said that the availability of water is sufficient, but the basic question is one of efficient management. However, reports have shown that climate change is to a great extent affecting the water bodies like rivers, streams and lakes. For example, with less than average rainfall the Kathmandu valley ground water is not being recharged commensurate with the extraction that has grown astronomically. If the monsoon plays the erratic role, the time may not be far when the groundwater will fail creating troubles, the likes of which will also be felt in other urban areas in South Asia. And, clean water remains the pre-requisite for a healthy population. This might in part explain the fact why though many diseases are preventable or can be cured, more people are dying of diarrhea in the Third World.
The bleak prospects of a healthy population can only be offset by clean drinking water, among other things. With the developing economies taking a tumble, the low income available to most of the migrants to cities forces them to invite malnutrition while
they hold on to their job rather than face starvation
in the villages. To return to the basics, environmental degradation and global warming due to the greenhouse gases have to be tackled before
any progress can be made for a healthier and
fulfilling life for those living, not only in the urban, but also the rural areas.
Although it should not be so, many couples prefer to have sons and not daughters. This is gender discrimination and needs to be dealt with by changing the mindset of such people. Lip service is often played that sons and daughters are equal and what a son can do a daughter can too but in real life they are after male offspring. It is said that people are saddened in many instances when a daughter is born to them. The society as a whole is responsible for this. Now, when an infuriated husband kicks out his wife of 12 years from home for not giving birth to a son, it points to the fact that the matter has gone too far. Such prejudice is deep seated and difficult to eradicate. There are also news about female fetuses being aborted after learning their sex .
So that such incidents do not take place, stringent laws should be in place to punish all those engaged in such discrimination. Meanwhile, since these take place particularly in developing countries there is a need to make the people aware about such malpractices and to treat both their sons and daughters equally at a time when we are striving for the empowerment of women.