Massive slums have become major features of cities in many low-income and middle-income countries. Here, in the first in a Series of two papers, we discuss why slums are unhealthy places with especially high risks of infection and injury. We show that children are especially vulnerable, and that the combination of malnutrition and recurrent diarrhoea leads to stunted growth and longer-term effects on cognitive development. We find that the scientific literature on slum health is underdeveloped in comparison to urban health, and poverty and health.
Despite large gains in health over the past few decades, the distribution of health risks worldwide remains extremely and unacceptably uneven. Although the health sector has a crucial role in addressing health inequalities, its efforts often come into conflict with powerful global actors in pursuit of other interests such as protection of national security, safeguarding of sovereignty, or economic goals. This is the starting point of The Lancet-University of Oslo Commission on Global Governance for Health.