Urban poor worse off than counterparts in the rural areas - experts

By Carol Natukunda

According to the 2014 Census report up to 56.6% of Ugandans aged 14 to 64(working age) live in the urban areas.

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The urban poor are worse off than their counterparts in the rural areas are, a public health expert has said.
"The assumption that because you are in the city you are well-off is wrong. In cities, there are worse inequalities. The poorest children in the city are twice likely to die. The city dwellers were prone to diseases, road accidents and injuries, and they have no social structures to lean back on," said Dr. Daniel Okello, the Acting Director of Public Health and Environment at Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA).
According to the 2014 Census report up to 56.6% of Ugandans aged 14 to 64(working age) live in the urban areas. He stressed that while urbanization can foster economic advancement and improved quality of life; this prosperity often masks stark disparities and inequities.
"We need tailored solutions in urban settings. We cannot compare the situation to the hard-to-reach rural areas. Each of these settings has unique needs," said Dr. Okello.
To break it down, he said the air quality in Kampala at 162(*g/m3) is among the worst in the world. This is partly due to the congestion and traffic in the city, which causes pollution.
Kampala's air quality is three times higher than the World Health Organisation recommendation of 25(*g/m3). It is also worse than some of the most industrialized cities such as Beijing, and Los Angeles. This, according to KCCA is a recipe for disaster, as it can lead to life-threatening conditions such as asthma, lung cancer, and pneumonia.
Dr. Okello also said urban populations were prone to contracting infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.
"We took a random survey around the old taxi park area in Kampala and found 22 people had Tuberculosis. These people come to the city to probably shop and go back. But they leave the infections with us," said Dr. Okello.
"We need to look at multi sectoral planning," he added.
Okello was on Thursday presenting a paper on emerging issues in urban health. This was during the annual health sector review in Kampala.