November 26, 2022

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Context

High-density low-income neighbourhoods, inadequate housing and infrastructure, limited access to basic services (weak primary health care system and outreach) and exposure to environmental hazards are major factors that contribute to a lack of health and wellbeing for children and young people in urban contexts. In fragile cities, the fear of violence and violence itself are a threat to the health and wellbeing of young people.

In cities, interconnected aspects of the physical and social environment affect children and young people’s health and wellbeing. Air pollution, malnutrition, and lack of safe public spaces and sanitation are all major global health and wellbeing challenges to which children and young people are particularly vulnerable. In urban contexts, proximity to basic services does not always equal access. Disadvantaged children and young people continue to be excluded from basic health and social services due to various levels of institutional invisibility and social marginalisation. Overall, causes of urban illness and death have shifted from infectious diseases to chronic diseases.

However, COVID-19 has compounded problems caused by existing structural inequalities of poverty, inadequate housing and economic exclusion for those living in urban informal settlements and fragile/conflict affected urban areas in the global South – problems which have hit children and young people particularly hard.

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