Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Least Healthy City in the World?

So, where is the least healthy city in the world? According to Mercer Human Resource Consulting, "The lowest-ranking city for health and sanitation is Baku in Azerbaijan, which scores just 27.6. Other low-scoring cities include Dhaka in Bangladesh, Antananarivo in Madagascar and Port Au Prince in Haiti, which score 29.6, 30.1 and 34 respectively."
Mercer takes into consideration the following indicators:

  • Hospital Services;
  • Medical Supplies;
  • Infectious Diseases;
  • Water Potability;
  • Troublesome and destructive animals/insects;
  • Waste Removal;
  • Sewage and Air Pollution.
Of course, one must keep in mind that Mercer is not an academic survey. Mercer is a consulting firm that sells reports to businesses looking at adjusting such items as hardship pay and cost of living adjustments to expats (mainly from Europe and North America) posted throughout the world; they charge heavily for their services. In fact, we decided that it was not worth the 370 dollars to compare two cities.

Furthermore, their methodology is not publicly available. While Baku may have health problems, it is hard to imagine that it deserves a score lower than Port-au-Prince or Dhaka (of course no offense to these cities intended).

We'd love to hear your opinion and other data for or against Mercer's results. Please post a comment.


Jonathan Kulick said...

Baku certainly ranks among the world's worst cases of soil contamination, which makes its groundwater toxic (http://www.caspianenvironment.org/eracl/unido_4.htm). The Caspian is an oil sump. (http://www.ce-review.org/01/3/smailes3.html) Sumgait was a gigantic chem lab with no safety equipment, and has a children's cemetery to show for it (http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/06-08/the-baby-cemetery-sumgait-azerbaijan.html).

Expats in P-a-P and Dhaka can insulate themselves from poor sanitation, but it's a lot harder to avoid a comprehensive environmental catastrophe.

That said, Baku's ozone and particulates levels aren't anywhere near the world's worst, and I'd expect that a year in Mexico City, or Beijing, or Teheran is a lot likelier to make an expat sick than a year in Baku.

AaronE said...

Dear Genews,

Thanks for the comment. Very interesting articles as well.

I think you make a good point.

How you judge health depends on which factors are more important and how they are ranked.

Air quality v. water quality -- for example.