Infectious diseases in a densely populated area will spread easily and are harder to control. Overcrowding also reduces fertility and causes stress-related diseases exacerbating many physical and mental illnesses.$CUT$
Overpopulation can cause health problems through poor sanitation and pollution.
If there is an epidemic, viruses spread faster in denser populations. In smaller human populations, viruses go extinct as there would be limited numbers of susceptible individuals.
World renown epidemiologist, Dr Nathan Wolfe of the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative said, “Viruses actually need population density as fuel.”
On the other hand, open spaces in urban settings offer health benefits to residents. This, in turn, benefits the country with a healthy work force and a reduction in the use of healthcare services.
A large epidemiological study in Britain looked at mortality and morbidity among three income levels in relation to their access to green open space. The study examined about 360,000 deaths in a population of about 41 million.
The results show that wealthier individuals were generally healthier than those with lower incomes. More importantly, it shows that in all groups irrespective of income there was an improvement in health in proportion to their access to green space.
In fact, the study showed that the lower socio-economic groups fare relatively better the more they are exposed to green spaces. In other words, green spaces not only reduce health disparities between income groups, they also promote general health and well-being in everyone.
Another epidemiological study in the Netherlands examined the health of 17,000 people. It also found that residents living in neighbourhoods with abundant green space were, on average, healthier. This correlation was clearly evident in the general population but it was more pronounced among seniors, housewives and low-income people.
Also significant was the correlation between health and the total amount of green space, which, in some cases, was located at a distance of one to three kilometres from home.
A third study took place in Tokyo which is known for its very high building density. This was a longitudinal study that followed a group of 3,000 70-year old citizens over five years. The presence of relatively plentiful green space in a neighbourhood correlated with a lower mortality risk.
There are other studies and they all point to the beneficial effects of green spaces on stress, physical fatigue, mood, concentration, mental fatigue, self-discipline and faster recovery from illnesses.
Overcrowding is a serious impediment to Singaporeans living a high quality of life. Already green spaces in Singapore are at a premium. The Government intends to remove more of it – Bukit Brown being the latest casualty.
But even as we have less and less green space, the PAP is going to make our island even more crowded by upping the population size to 6 million by 2020. The Government does not take into consideration the deleterious effects of overcrowding on our health.
The SDP puts the well-being of our people first. We will work towards decreasing our population size and increasing space for our people. This will result in the improvement of the overall health, both physical and psychological, of Singaporeans.
For more information on this subject, please see our population policy paper Building A People: Sound Policies For A Secure Future.