Observing that large-scale migration to urban areas is resulting in unplanned growth, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today said population in cities face the dual burden of both communicable and incommunicable diseases due to this reason.
Addressing a WHO conference in Bangkok, Azad said, "what is of concern is the large-scale migration of people from rural to urban areas in search of employment and livelihood opportunities resulting in the unplanned growth of slums and townships, deficient in basic amenities like water, sanitation, roads, housing and electricity".
Lack of safe drinking water and sanitation, crowded housing and other inadequacies of infrastructure put these migrant families at great risk of communicable diseases like TB, Malaria and Dengue, he said.
"Further owing to their living conditions, weak family support and other environmental factors they are also exposed to injuries, accidents, violence, drugs and alcoholism.
"In addition, we are also witnessing profound lifestyle changes reflected in high consumption of junk foods, less leisure and physical exercise, more stress etc. resulting in higher incidence of diabetes and hypertension," he said, adding for these reasons, urban populations face dual burden of diseases-- both communicable and non communicable.
The minister said that while the better off sections in urban areas have access to both public and private hospitals, the urban poor living in slums are at a much greater disadvantage and tend to have more adverse health status indicators than their counterparts in rural areas.
Their immediate environment, their poverty and the lack of access to health care services render them highly vulnerable to diseases with adverse health outcomes, he said.