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Preventing COVID-19 Amid Public Health and Urban Planning Failures in Slums of Indian Cities
Authors: Amit Patel
Source: World Medical & Health Policy, Published online; DOI: 10.1002/wmh3.351
Topic(s): COVID-19
Country: Asia
Published: JUL 2020
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the lack of urban planning and its public health implications in developing countries. Slum communities face the dual challenges of chronically poor residential environments and the acute effects of a pandemic and the preventive measures that follow. In this paper, I assess the effectiveness and implications of social distancing, frequent handwashing, and lockdown in the context of slums in Indian cities, where overcrowding, lack of access to water and sanitation, and dependence on daily wages for sustenance and livelihood are common. Using data from multiple sources, I demonstrate that not only will these measures be hard to achieve in slums in the short term due to specific characteristics of these habitats, but they will bring new challenges in the long term due to disproportionate impacts on the urban poor. Lessons learned from this pandemic will require us to rethink public health responses and urban planning practices that could better prepare our cities for future pandemics.