NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 19 – The 8th International Conference on Urban Health (ICUH) entered its second day on Monday with a plan to come up with a Nairobi declaration on urban health.
The five day conference themed ‘Meeting Urban Health Needs through Innovative Research’ will provide an international forum for knowledge exchange among urban health partners.
Addressing the conference, Local government Assistant Minister Lewis Nguyai said Kenya like most developing nations, faced the challenge of developing rural areas due to the mass exodus of the industrious population to urban centers.
“Most of the productive, active, best educated and perhaps most ambitious people migrate to urban areas due to the ‘push and pull’ forces,” Mr Nguyai said.
He said the move had a brain drain effect on the rural population and the urban based local authorities had found themselves overwhelmed by the demands for services from the rapidly growing towns and increasing poor population.
“Wholesome benefits of city life such as health facilities are experienced by few people and not the majority of urban residents. The percentage of people falling sick and child mortality is several times higher in slums and Semi-urban areas than in more privileged high-class neighbourhoods,” the assistant minister said.
Issues pertaining to urban health, with emphasis on interventions that help to alleviate barriers to urban health would also be addressed at the meeting.
The ultimate goal of the conference is to mobilize and energize like-minded professionals addressing the effects of urbanization and urban environments on the health of urban populations.
“The association of poverty with poor health outcomes has remained a living reality which means the health inequalities between the rich and poor are large and increasing,” he said.
The Assistant Minister said the ministry was in the process of preparing an urban development policy that would provide leadership on how the urbanisation process together with its consequences could best be managed for the benefit of all.
The ICUH is an annual event of the International Society for urban Health whose goal is to encourage research, interventions and program evaluations that lead to healthier cities in the twenty first century.
This is the first time the conference is being held outside North America and Europe.
It would focus attention on the health challenges that such urban residents across the world face and discuss practical ways of responding to the challenges.