Overcrowding and our health

February 20, 2013
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

Infectious diseasesin a densely populated area will spread easily and are harder tocontrol. Overcrowding also reduces fertility and causesstress-related diseases exacerbating many physical and mentalillnesses.$CUT$

Overpopulation cancause health problems through poor sanitation andpollution.

If there is an epidemic, viruses spread faster in denserpopulations. In smaller human populations, viruses go extinct as there would be limited numbers of susceptibleindividuals.

World renownepidemiologist, Dr Nathan Wolfe of the Global Viral ForecastingInitiative said, “Viruses actually need population density asfuel.”

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 areduction in the use of healthcare services.

A largeepidemiological study in Britain looked at mortality and morbidityamong three income levels in relation to their access to green openspace. The study examined about 360,000 deaths in a population ofabout 41 million.

The results showthat wealthier individuals were generally healthier than those withlower incomes. More importantly, it shows that in all groupsirrespective of income there was an improvement in health inproportion to their access to green space.

In fact, the studyshowed that the lower socio-economic groups fare relatively betterthe more they are exposed to green spaces. In other words, greenspaces not only reduce health disparities between income groups, theyalso promote general health and well-being in everyone.

Anotherepidemiological study in the Netherlands examined the health of17,000 people. It also found that residents living in neighbourhoodswith abundant green space were, on average, healthier. Thiscorrelation was clearly evident in the general population but it wasmore pronounced among seniors, housewives and low-income people.

Also significantwas the correlation between health and the total amount of greenspace, which, in some cases, was located at a distance of one tothree kilometres from home.

A third study tookplace in Tokyo which is known for its very high building density.This was a longitudinal study that followed a group of 3,000 70-yearold citizens over five years. The presence of relatively plentifulgreen space in a neighbourhood correlated with a lower mortalityrisk.

There are otherstudies and they all point to the beneficial effects of green spaceson stress, physical fatigue, mood, concentration, mental fatigue,self-discipline and faster recovery from illnesses.

Overcrowding is aserious 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, thePAP is going to make our island even more crowded by upping the population size to 6 million by 2020. The Government does not take intoconsideration the deleterious effects of overcrowding on our health.

The SDP puts thewell-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.



Formore information on this subject, please see our population policy paper Building A People: SoundPolicies For A Secure Future.