Health and wellbeing in urban South Africa: an overview

Ruth T. Massey, Stuart P. Denoon-Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The health and wellbeing of residents in South Africa’s towns and cities are currently threatened by the burden of disease, high incidences of crime/violence, and increasing economic, social, and environmental inequality. The impact of past and present spatial exclusion has exacerbated high levels of poverty and ill health, and the rapid rise in urbanization has put further pressure on already strained urban systems. While significant progress has been made, poor levels of service delivery, neglected infrastructure, and a lack of social amenities continue to pose a challenge. A further concern has been the prioritization in policy and literature on the ‘hard’ traditional elements of health over ‘softer’ dimensions (wellbeing aspects). The field of medical geography in South Africa has also remained relatively peripheral, with most geographical and human settlement research on health being driven by public-health scholars. This special issue brings together the voices of researchers working on health and wellbeing in South Africa’s urban spaces to address these and other concerns. Several key findings have emerged including the need for governance models that focus on overall wellbeing, the importance of interdisciplinary approaches, the role that wider socio-economic context and history play, and the importance of access to open space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-275
Number of pages5
JournalSouth African Geographical Journal
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2022


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