The Health Challenge in Emerging-Market Cities

OXFORD – Emerging markets – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, and some 15 other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America – account for a rapidly growing share of the world’s population and economy. But their governments now face one of the major challenges of the twenty-first century: creating public-health solutions that match the speed and scale of urbanization.

The four largest emerging markets account for more than 40% of the world’s population and have a collective GDP of nearly $9 trillion. It is expected that their economies will overtake those of the G-7 by 2030, and that, by 2050, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Russia will, with the US, be the worlds’ dominant economies.

Today, however, these countries’ cities must contend with economic and social issues that are more acute, more urgent, and of a vastly larger scale than those that confronted European and American cities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

A principal challenge is managing the consequences of the explosive growth of urban populations. More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. In my own country, Pakistan, Karachi is growing at a rate of 1,000 people per day.