• International Journal of Technology (IJTech)
  • Vol 14, No 5 (2023)

Defining Healthy City and Its Influence on Urban Well-being

Defining Healthy City and Its Influence on Urban Well-being

Title: Defining Healthy City and Its Influence on Urban Well-being
Yudan Whulanza, Eny Kusrini

Corresponding email:

Cite this article as:
Whulanza, Y., Kusrini, E., 2023. Defining Healthy City and Its Influence on Urban Well-being. International Journal of Technology. Volume 14(5), pp. 948-953

Yudan Whulanza Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus Baru UI, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Eny Kusrini Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus Baru UI, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Email to Corresponding Author

Defining Healthy City and Its Influence on Urban Well-being

" Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can possess." Winston Churchill's profound statement emphasizes the paramount importance of investing in robust healthcare infrastructure, disease prevention, and comprehensive public health initiatives. Amidst the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of designing healthy cities has gained significant attention. In addition to addressing healthcare provisions and optimizing social and urban environments, a comprehensive understanding of the population inhabiting the city is imperative.

It is contended that the health status of city residents serves as a paramount determinant of urban well-being. By recognizing the intricate interplay between population health and urban environments, policymakers and urban planners can effectively address the challenges posed by pandemics and cultivate thriving urban ecosystems that promote public health. This impact extends to all age groups, including infants, youth, and the elderly, making a holistic approach to urban design and public health imperative.

The aging demographic shift has emerged as one of the major challenges of the 21st century. This global phenomenon is evident when examining the trend data on the percentage of the population over 60 years of age. While the world as a whole falls in the middle range, more developed regions exhibit a significantly higher proportion of individuals over 60. However, it is important to note that the slope of low- and middle-income regions and countries is gradually increasing. Therefore, aging is no longer solely an issue confined to northern regions but has become a global concern.

In addition to the aging population, non-infectious diseases and injuries impose a significant burden on public health. Cancer and cardiovascular disease continue to account for the highest death rates, highlighting the ongoing challenges in managing these conditions. Furthermore, while remarkable strides have been achieved in reducing mortality from acute infectious diseases like Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB), and malaria, road traffic accidents have surfaced as a growing concern. These accidents are interconnected with broader determinants of health, necessitating comprehensive strategies to address their impact.


Definition of Health and Quality of Life Measurement

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, encompassing more than the mere absence of disease or

infirmity. Consequently, factors contributing to the state of health include both natural and man-made environments, constituting a complex ecosystem with interconnected elements that impact individuals in various ways. The measurement of quality of life is primarily conducted through surveys, and the WHO has developed its own survey instruments that are utilized worldwide. These instruments are administered to both patients and individuals who are in good health, as well as healthcare professionals. Available in over 20 countries and languages, these surveys serve as valuable tools for assessing various aspects of quality of life, including subjective well-being, life satisfaction, and objective determinants across different nations.

 In addition to surveys, various ranking systems play a significant role in enhancing our understanding of the quality of life on a global scale. One such system is the US News ranking, which considers multiple factors such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, and economic stability to assess the overall quality of life in different countries. These rankings provide insights into the objective determinants influencing quality of life.

The Economist Intelligence Unit employs a unique concept termed the "where-do-they-born index" to evaluate the quality of life. This index transforms the notion of quality of life into "the way to be born," focusing on opportunities for a healthy, safe, and prosperous life. By examining subjective factors, life satisfaction, and objective determinants across various countries, this index offers a comprehensive assessment of the quality of life.

Another noteworthy measure of the quality of life is the Muscles Quality of Life Index. This index evaluates various dimensions of well-being, including physical health, psychological well-being, social connections, and environmental factors. It provides a holistic perspective on quality of life, considering both subjective experiences and objective determinants. Singapore's top ranking in the Muscles Quality of Life Index for Asia highlights its exceptional performance in terms of providing a high quality of life to its residents. This recognition underscores the city-state's success in areas such as healthcare accessibility, social infrastructure, and environmental sustainability.


Design Considerations for Healthy Cities

Designing healthy cities necessitates moving beyond two-dimensional spatial planning. Instead, a three-dimensional approach is required, considering the volume of space in which individuals exist. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of volumetric considerations, such as adequate ventilation, to create healthy environments and mitigate the spread of infectious diseases.

Climate change is a complex and multifaceted topic that encompasses various aspects, one of which is the heat island effect observed in cities. This phenomenon refers to the concentration of heat within urban areas, which exacerbates the challenges posed by climate change. One particular concern associated with increased heat is its impact on vulnerable populations, such as older individuals and those who lack access to air conditioning or sufficient cooling in their residences. These populations are at a higher risk of heat-related health issues.

 Extremely high temperatures can significantly impact the productivity of the workforce. Working in such conditions can lead to decreased efficiency and well-being, highlighting the importance of addressing heat-related challenges in occupational settings. Furthermore, ensuring environmental sustainability, maintaining cool temperatures, and preserving air quality contribute to the creation of a healthy urban ecosystem.

Another critical issue arising from climate change is the rising sea levels, particularly for coastal cities like New York, Mumbai, Tokyo, and others located near bodies of water. Sea level rise poses substantial risks and challenges to these cities, necessitating proactive measures to mitigate and adapt to the changing coastal environment.


Promoting Interaction and Efficiency

Traditional city plans often emphasize the segregation of recreational, industrial, and residential areas for efficiency. However, optimal city design calls for creating variability and connectivity in both form and function. Transportation choices have a visible and tangible effect on the well-being of individuals and communities. Decisions regarding the allocation of transportation resources can have profound health implications.

Investing in mass transit systems and promoting active modes of transport, such as bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, and walkability initiatives, can positively influence health outcomes. These measures contribute to reducing sedentary behaviors, combating issues like obesity, and promoting mental health by creating opportunities for outdoor activities and encouraging engagement with the urban environment.

Conversely, decisions that prioritize car-centric transportation systems can have detrimental effects on health. Cars contribute to air pollution, which can worsen respiratory conditions and have broader implications for public health. Furthermore, road traffic accidents pose a significant risk to the safety and well-being of city residents.