The mega trend, the sort of thing that dwarfs everything else of world migration is rural to urban. War population is predicted to increase, from the present just over seven billion to 9.6 billion by 2050; however, in more developed regions, the richer areas of the world, both rural and urban population is expected to stagnate.
In less developed regions, the poor areas of the world, rural population is also expected to stagnate, or even to decrease, but the population which is expected to grow dramatically is urban populations of less developed countries.
In fact, almost all population growth in the next few decades, 2 billion people, is expected to happen in urban centers of less developed regions.
So then what are the health implications of this mega shift, and what are the implications for protecting the right to health?
One aspect is that at present about 1 billion or one third of the world urban population is living in slums, and many of recent migrants when they arrive in city areas, in the urban areas they arrive and go into the slums. Not all slums are health hazards, but in terms of water and sanitation, they can present great challenges, very different challenges from the more affluent areas.
Although such migrants, who come from the rural areas to the urban areas, in principle are protected by the laws of their country, some urban migrants are not covered by the same health and education privileges as persons who are urban residents. For example, that has been the case in China, for the rural to urban migrants.
There are other types of internal migrants which face special challenges.
The term internally displaced persons, or IDPs, has received much attention in the last two decades. Recent estimates are that about 27 million persons are internally displaced within their own country, due to conflict or violence.
This conflict that they’re experienced may be with the government of their own country and therefore IDPs may not be willing or able to seek protection from the government, including in the area of healthcare. And although a set of guidelines has been developed two decades ago, and although the African Union has formalized those guidelines, this group of people, the internally displaced persons, remains very difficult to identify and to protect.
However, those displaced by conflict and violence are not the only persons who are internally displaced.
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University of Copenhague Lectures