DUBAI - Urbanisation negatively impacts the health of children and increases their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, according to a new report published this week by the World Heart Federation.
Around 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in an urban environment and this is generally increasing. Within the Gulf region, the percentage of urban population is significantly higher. For example, the urban population in the UAE is 78 per cent, in Jordan it is 79 per cent and in Saudi Arabia urban dwellers represent 84 per cent of the nation’s population. Meanwhile, Qatar has one of the highest percentage of urban populations in the world at 96 per cent, according to a World Bank report 2007–2010.
“Without doubt, urbanisation has an important impact on health and particularly on that of children. The link between urbanisation and heart health has been clearly established and as urban development across the region continues, steps must be taken to protect the health of our children,” said Dr Nooshin Bazargani, Head of CVD prevention group of Emirates Cardiac Society. “Sustainable development in our cities and taking a multi-stakeholder approach to addressing the growing CVD burden is key.”
“The World Congress of Cardiology, which will take place in Dubai in April, will provide us with an important opportunity to focus the attention of this region on what must be done to protect our future,” she added.
“Children living in towns and cities face very real and growing health risks. Crowded living conditions, air and water pollution, limited green space and an overwhelming display of tobacco, alcohol and fast-food marketing, all disproportionately affect certain populations and potentially impose limitations on how they live, work, eat and sustain themselves,” said Professor Sidney C Smith Jr, MD, President, World Heart Federation.
“A misconception that CVD is a lifestyle disease that primarily afflicts older, affluent populations has until now led to the virtual absence of vital investment in the prevention and treatment of CVD and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Action to address urban health risks is therefore essential to protect the health of our children and the prospects of future generations.”