Today the United States joins the World Health Organization and countries around the world in commemorating World Health Day.
This year’s theme is “Urbanization and Health: Urban Health Matters.” The rapid rise in the number of people living in cities will be among the top global health issues of the 21st century. The World Health Organization estimates that six out of every 10 people will be city dwellers by 2030, rising to seven out of 10 by 2050. In many cases, especially in the developing world, the speed of urbanization has outpaced the ability of governments to build and maintain essential health, water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure and provide basic services.
Disease is both a symptom of poverty -- with over-crowding, inadequate infrastructure and lack of health care increasing transmission and susceptibility -- and also a contributor to poverty. Poor health shreds communities, undermines economic opportunity, and holds back progress. And it denies children around the world the opportunity to live up to their full God-given potential. We have also seen that oceans and borders are no defense against the pandemics that threaten us all. These are global challenges that demand a global response.
The United States and our international partners are committed to improving health and strengthening health systems around the world. We understand that addressing global health challenges is not just a humanitarian imperative -- it will also bolster global security, foster political stability and promote economic growth and development.
Through our Global Health Initiative, we are investing $63 billion, with an emphasis on women and girls whose health has the biggest impact on families and communities. Efforts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Safe Water Programs and the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Making Cities Work strategy are focused on public health concerns of urban residents worldwide. Our foreign assistance programs are improving local governance, creating new partnerships with civil society and the private sector, and targeting the urgent needs of the urban poor. From Afghanistan to Zambia, we are helping cities create a better quality of life for their inhabitants through access to higher paying jobs, improved health care, and quality education.
On this World Health Day, let us renew our resolve to work together to meet the global health challenges of the 21st century.