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Geneva, Switzerland, WHO, 1991. vi, 65 p. (WHO Technical Report Series 807)This report by WHO's Expert Committee on Environmental Health in Urban Development explains that social and physical factors, including the destruction of the natural environment, place the health of urban dwellers at risk. The report discusses the urbanization phenomenon and its consequences, the problems and needs in environmental health, and provides recommendations. From 1950-80, the world's urban population nearly tripled, with most of the growth occurring in developing countries, where urban population quadrupled. Experts predict that many urban centers in developing countries will have an annual growth rate of more than 3% over the next 40 years. While developed countries have seen declines in the level of population growth, the health risks to its urban inhabitants have nonetheless increased. Technological changes, increased energy consumption, and increased levels of waste have placed great stress on the environment and have increased the health risks. But developing countries have seen even more problems associated with urban living. Rapid urbanization levels have led to overcrowding, congestion, and the destruction of previously unsettled ecosystems. Pollution levels have increased. Due to the lack of sanitation services, the threat of communicable diseases has increased. Social problem such as crime and violence also affect the well-being of urban dwellers. The group at greatest risk includes poor women and children. The report explains that tackling the health problems associated with urbanization will require a major conceptual change, considering that current efforts are ineffectual. Some of the recommendations include: strengthening the management of urban development; strengthening the management and technology for environmental health; and strengthening community action.
POPULATION SCIENCES. 1990 Jul; 9:1-4.The world's population stands at about 5.3 billion. It increases by about 90 million/year. >90% of this growth is in the developing world where about 75% of the world population live. In Arab countries, the population is growing 2.6%/year and total fertility rates (TFRs) stand >5 whereas the TFR for the entire world is a bit >3. Much of the growth has occurred in cities, e.g., Cairo, where the population has outpaced basic services. Cities require food and fuel thereby stressing rural areas which rural-urban migration only exacerbates. Population growth and distribution have a more profound and long term effect on the planet than does the destruction of rain forests and desertification. Indeed they contribute heavily to these very problems. Even though people have the right to decide how many children they have and their spacing, they also have the responsibility, as Islam professes, to have only number of children they can afford. Likewise governments have the right and responsibility to develop population policies each suited to the individual nation's needs and conditions. Each government must set policies that improve the role and status of women, such as ensuring literacy and education for girls and women. In fact, women must be involved in designing and managing population and development policies to ensure success of any related endeavors. The Arab would agrees on the safer motherhood strategy (providing means to prevent and space births) as a means to reduce population growth. The UNFPA encourages the Arab world to develop a unique Arab population policy which is in accordance with Islamic teachings and is acceptable to all countries and to both men and women.