It’s called the urban survival gap – fuelled by the growing inequality between rich and poor in both developing and developed countries – and it literally determines whether millions of infants will live or die before their fifth birthday. Save the Children’s annual report on the State of the World’s Mothers 2015 ranks 179 countries and concludes that that “for babies born in the big city, it’s the survival of the richest.”
Speaking from the launch at U.N. Headquarters, Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, said that for the first time in history, more families are moving into cities to give their children a better life. But this shift from a rural to an urban society has increased disparities within cities.
“Our report reveals a devastating child survival divide between the haves and have-nots, telling a tale of two cities among urban communities around the world, including the United States,” Miles added.
The document estimates that 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and by 2050 the concentration of people in cities will increase to 66 percent, especially in Asia and Africa.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that nearly a billion people live in urban slums, shantytowns, on sidewalks, under bridges and along railroad tracks.
While women living in cities may have easier access to primary health care, including hospitals, many governments have been unable to keep up with this rapid urban growth. One-third of all urban residents – over 860 million people – live in slums where they face lack of clean water and sanitation, alongside rampant malnutrition.