December 2018



Today’s growing cities are, quite literally, changing the future. As the majority of our world’s population moves from rural to urban areas, that migration is transforming the challenges of our public health landscape. Increased living standards and economic growth have come at the cost of ecological well-being – inviting such negative impacts as anthropogenic climate change, deforestation, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, and ocean acidification, among other stresses. Approximately one-third of the earth’s human inhabitants now live in water-stressed areas, which brings with it an increased threat of infectious disease.

As a result, the need for public-private partnerships has never been greater. In recent years, as U.S. public health departments have lost substantial funding and cut thousands of jobs, communities and organizations have come together, marshalling expertise, funding, and technologies from the private sector to promote better outcomes. Despite the tightening of financial resources, these collaborations have significantly improved public health and safety with healthier behaviors; cleaner air, food and water; and breakthroughs in disease diagnosis and treatment.

Just as the health and lives of the world’s peoples are inexorably connected, a collaborative approach to promoting Global Health gives us our best chance for success. We must take every opportunity to engage, work together, and to serve.

Our future depends on it.

IN URBAN AREAS, 1950–2050

Until the 20th century, only 1 in 10 people lived in urban areas. By 2015, that number had increased to 54%, and by 2030 more than 60% of the world’s population will live in cities.