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The impact of rapid urbanisation on health in Chinese mega-cities

50 young researchers and experts from across China and the UK have been bought together in Xiamen, China to co-produce potential solutions to sustainable development and healthy living in Chinese megacities, funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the British Council and Newton Fund.

China lives in the age of the megacity (cities with a population of more than 10 million). Rapid urbanisation in these large urban areas is increasingly linked with poor planning, unequal access to services and a lack of pollution-reduction measures, all of which have severe impacts on public health.

Hosted by Cardiff University, Swansea University and the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Science (CAS-IUE), and coordinated by Professor Terry Marsden (Cardiff University, UK) and Professor Yongguan Zhu (CAS-IUE, China), the workshop has helped to develop a broader and deeper understanding of systems thinking, complexity theory and place-based methods, in relation to health and rapid urbanization, and to create cross-disciplinary and cross-country collaborations, focusing on urbanisation and environmental health.

Interactions between our health and the environment we live in are complex and can hold unintended consequences. Increasing evidence points to rapid urbanisation as a source of poor health via unintended consequences such as poorly planned urban sprawl, a lack of access to infrastructure and widening inequalities, especially for the disadvantaged poor. Thus solutions to health problems need to be sourced from areas such as urban planning, environmental science, and etc. in addition to medical innovation.

Professor Terry Marsden, Director of the Sustainable Places Research Institute said “The impacts of rapid urbanisation are particularly relevant to the disadvantaged groups in society. How we decide to meet this challenge will have a strong impact on population health and quality of life in future.”

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