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Burden of Disease on the Urban Poor: A Study of Morbidity and Utilization of Healthcare among Slum Dwellers in Dhaka City

Bangladesh, as the rest of the developing world, is urbanizing rapidly; around one-third of the country’s population comprising 50 million people, live in urban areas. In recent years, urban population is growing at an increasing rate in Bangladesh (at an annual rate of between five to six percent).Urban population has grown from 5 million in 1970 to 22 million in 1990, to about 43.3 million in 2011. Even though level of urbanization is low in Bangladesh, the magnitude of urban population (more than 40 million) is larger than the national population of many countries in the world (Australia, Canada). It has been projected that the share of urban population will be 40% of total population by 2020, and more than 50 per cent of the population will live in urban areas by 2050 (UN 2007). 

There were 41 urban areas in present day Bangladesh recorded in the census of 1901 and 1911 which increased to 51 in the census of 1921, 59 in 1931, 60 in 1941, 64 in 1951, 78 in 1961 and about 500 in 2011. Over the 40 years during 1961-2011, the Bangladeshi population nearly tripled in size, growing from 55 million to 150 million (Fig 1). The urban population increased by nearly twenty-fold, galloping from less than 3 million in 1961 to over 43 million in 2011 (Fig 1). Owing to these population dynamics, the share of urban population grew from around 5 per cent in 1961 to 29 per cent in 2011. It is projected to reach 40 per cent by 2020.

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