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Local-Level Action Needed To Fight Ill Health In Urban Areas

Noting an estimated 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, Gerry Stimson of Knowledge-Action-Change and Imperial College London writes in a Lancet opinion piece, “As to be discussed at the City Health 2013 conference in Glasgow, U.K., on November 4-5, cities help to create ill health.” He continues, “Many public health experts focus on the big social challenges — reduction of inequalities, improvement of urban infrastructures, and use of taxes and controls on industry to discourage consumption of unhealthy products, but solutions to such issues are often a long time coming.” But at a local level, cities are “the focus of creative health responses, especially for healthy and unhealthy behaviors,” he states. “Some overarching actions require national strategies and infrastructure,” Stimson writes, concluding, “However, urban projects across the world show the need to foster local initiatives: the urban slum dwellers with innovative housing solutions; the AIDS activists who argue for better treatment access; urban food-cultivation projects; and community-led projects to protect sex workers from dangerous clients. Good national laws and resources cannot be substituted; but, in times of austerity, local actions count” (11/2).