Urban health in India: who is responsible?



Urban health has received relatively less focus compared with rural health in India, especially the health of the urban poor. Rapid urbanization in India has been accompanied by an increase in population in urban slums and shanty towns, which are also very inadequately covered by basic amenities, including health services. The paper presents existing and new evidence that shows that health inequities exist between the poor and the non-poor in urban areas, even in better-off states in India. The lack of evidence-based policies that cut across sectors continues to be a main feature of the urban health scenario. Although the problems of urban health are more complex than those of rural health, the paper argues that it is possible to make a beginning fairly quickly by (i) collecting more evidence of health status and inequities in urban areas and (ii) correcting major inadequacies in infrastructure–both health and non-health–without waiting for major policy overhauls. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.