China has seen the largest human migration in history, and the country's rapid urbanisation has important consequences for public health. A provincial analysis of its urbanisation trends shows shifting and accelerating rural-to-urban migration across the country and accompanying rapid increases in city size and population. The growing disease burden in urban areas attributable to nutrition and lifestyle choices is a major public health challenge, as are troubling disparities in health-care access, vaccination coverage, and accidents and injuries in China's rural-to-urban migrant population. Urban environmental quality, including air and water pollution, contributes to disease both in urban and in rural areas, and traffic-related accidents pose a major public health threat as the country becomes increasingly motorised. To address the health challenges and maximise the benefits that accompany this rapid urbanisation, innovative health policies focused on the needs of migrants and research that could close knowledge gaps on urban population exposures are needed.
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