India is urbanizing rapidly, but are the cities and its people healthy?
Ahmedabad is the largest city in Gujarat and the fifth largest metropolis in India with a population of 60 lakh, (Census 2011). The population of the city has increased from 35 lakh in the year 2001 to 55.68 lakh in 2011. The slum population has increased from 12.4% to 17.9%.
The study conducted for Ahmedabad city by Institute of Rural Management revealed that the presence of a high number of slums (which lacks basic amenities and hygiene) in an area makes its population more susceptible to diseases. Poor living conditions in certain areas of the city makes it most prone to various water-borne and vector-borne diseases. Besides, inadequate water supply and sewage network facilities add on to the woes of its population and thus making them vulnerable to these diseases. Also, lack of availability of medical facilities at times of need and during emergencies leads to an increase in the death toll. Thus, poor sewerage conditions, lack of medical facilities make slum population of Ahmedabad city vulnerable. (Working Paper, Institute of Rural Management).
While on one hand, urbanization provides economic opportunities, the launch of the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) to address the health concerns of the urban poor has a potential to have concerted effort to rationalize and strengthen the existing public health care system in urban areas and promote effective engagement with the nongovernmental sector (for profit/not for profit) for better reach to urban poor, along with strengthening the participation of the community in planning and management of the health care service delivery.
To address the health and nutrition challenges of mothers, adolescent girls and children through a continuum of care approach, CHETNA with support from HDB Financial services are implementing ‘Sneha project’ in an urban slum community in Ahmedabad. Through adopting a continuum of care approach, the project activities aim to address the bottlenecks by ensuring the delivery of health and nutrition care and services to women from the public health system throughout her life cycle. Activities such as Inter-Personal Communication, home visits, educative sessions with pregnant and lactating women on care during pregnancy and importance of breastfeeding, initiation of complementary food at right age and importance of supplementary food, one to one interaction and meetings with adolescents on importance of menstrual hygiene management, RTI/STI and HIV/AIDS, celebration of nutrition week, breastfeeding week help raise awareness about nutrition, health, hygiene and sanitation and to improve communities’ access to health and nutrition services.
The project is supported by the HDB Financial Services as a part of its CSR activities.