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Open Access Commentary

Public health and medical care for the world's factory: China's Pearl River Delta Region

Guilhem Fabre1 and Victor G Rodwin2*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of International Affairs, University of Le Havre, 25 rue Phillipe Lebon, 76057 Cedex, Le Havre, France

2 Wagner School of Public Service, New York University, Puck Building, 2nd Floor, 295 Lafayette St., New York, NY 10025, USA

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BMC Medicine 2011, 9:110  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-110

Published: 4 October 2011

Abstract

While the growth of urbanization, worldwide, has improved the lives of migrants from the hinterland, it also raises health risks related to population density, concentrated poverty and the transmission of infectious disease. Will megacity regions evolve into socially infected breeding grounds for the rapid transmission of disease, or can they become critical spatial entities for the protection and promotion of population health? We address this question for the Pearl River Delta Region (PRD) based on recent data from Chinese sources, and on the experience of how New York, Greater London, Tokyo and Paris have grappled with the challenges of protecting population health and providing their populations with access to health care services. In some respects, there are some important lessons from comparative experience for PRD, notably the importance of covering the entire population for health care services and targeting special programs for those at highest risk for disease. In other respects, PRD's growth rate and sheer scale make it a unique megacity region that already faces new challenges and will require new solutions.