Go Big or Go Home

David Dyjack, DrPH, CIH

My rickshaw driver weaved in and out of traffic with the skill and agility of Houdini, skirting high impact collisions by mere millimeters. What in the world was I doing in Bangladesh? I represented NEHA and moderated a panel session at the International Conference on Urban Health in Dhaka, May 24–27, 2015. In the midst of the inner city bedlam I marveled that 1,000 people a day move to Dhaka, a teeming metropolis of some 18 million, most who are seemingly committed to being on the road all at the same time. One thousand people a day. That's one city absorbing more people per day than the number who migrate to the entire state of Colorado, over the same time period.

We find ourselves in the midst of the Century of Urbanization. Today, for the first time in history, more than half of the world's population reside in cities, with an estimated migration trend inflating that number to 70% by 2050. For the record, this is not news. Today, 5% of the nation's 2,800 local health departments provide services to 50% of the U.S. population, which suggests that most of us already prefer to reside in large urban areas.

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Journal of Environmental Health
September 2015
Volume 78, No. 2