Development for children's environmental health in South Africa: Past gains and future opportunities

Angela Mathee, Brendon Barnes, Shan Naidoo, Andre Swart, Hanna Andrea Rother

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

7 Citations (Scopus)


In poorly resourced countries children may face multiple health risks associated with environmental hazards and under-development. It is estimated that exposure to harmful environmental factors (e.g. air pollution, poor water quality and harmful chemicals) accounts for 33% of the global burden of disease, with the highest burden being borne by children. While accelerated housing and settlement development over the past two decades has benefitted hundreds of thousands of young children in South Africa, large numbers continue to face major environmental threats to their health, some of which have hitherto been neglected. Such children are likely to be particularly vulnerable to the unfolding ramifications of climate change. In this light greater urgency and momentum is needed to improve living conditions and other socio-environmental determinants of children's health in South Africa and other under-resourced countries. Children should be a central focus for policy and development as our global society strives to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-293
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopment Southern Africa
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2018


  • Children
  • South Africa
  • climate change
  • environmental health
  • sustainable development goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development


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