Health Gap Between Urban Rich and Poor Getting Worse

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

In cities, access to quality health care varies greatly between the rich and poor, from Lagos to Washington, D.C. The poorest urban children in some developing countries are twice as likely to die as their wealthy counterparts. Steps must be taken immediately to eliminate health inequality, says charity group Save the Children.

Its annual State of the World’s Mothers report finds that the world is making major gains in reducing the number of child and maternal deaths, but the poor are not receiving all of the benefits. An analysis of 36 developing countries revealed that all but one have “significant gaps between rich and poor urban children.” And the problems are not isolated to the poorest places in the world. The accompanying index shows just how far behind the United States is compared with other countries.

Closing the gap is vital to achieving the global targets that are soon to be established for 2030.

“We can’t achieve the goal of eliminating preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths by 2030 if we fail to focus more attention on the urban poor,” said David Oot, Save the Children’s senior adviser for health and nutrition, in an interview with Humanosphere.

The news is not all bad. Countries are seeing significant reductions in child mortality rates. In Rwanda, the under-5 mortality rate for the poorest 20 percent of children living in cities fell by 41 percent between 2000 and 2010. However, the mortality rate for the top 20 percent of children in Rwandan cities fell by 65 percent over the same period. The mortality rate gap between the rich and poor roughly doubled in 10 years. It is the exact same story seen in Kenya.

“For many years people assumed if you lived in an urban area you will be better off,” said Oot. “What the data show is that the poor in urban areas are not faring very well compared to those who are wealthy. They are as bad or worse off than those living in rural areas.”

Source: Humanosphere (link opens in a new window)

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