Built environment

The term ‘built environment' refers to human-made resources and infrastructure designed to support human activity, such as buildings, roads, parks, and other facilities. The characteristics of the built environment can affect the health of residents in multiple ways. Studies have shown that people, particularly those in low income areas, can be negatively influenced by their built environment (for example, transportation, traffic noise, eating facilities...).

According to WHO, over the next thirty years, most of the world's population growth will occur in cities and towns of poor countries. Rapid, unplanned and unsustainable patterns of urban development are making developing cities focal points for many emerging environment and health hazards. As urban populations grow, the quality of the urban environment, will play an increasingly important role in public health with respect to issues ranging from solid waste disposal, provision of safe water and sanitation, and injury prevention, to the interface between urban poverty, environment and health.

The WMA working group on Health and the Environment together with the Canadian Medical Association commissioned a review on Health and the Built Environment to Urban Design 4 Health. The report provides a brief foundation on the connections between the built environment, health and wellbeing through a summary of key research and evidence. Read the report

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