Caring for vulnerable children living in the slums and villages of India

GPM Maternal and Child Health Care & Medical Clinic

Thousands of children living in urban slums and rural villages are living in substandard health conditions with no or little access to medical care. Maternal and early childhood care can be scant and sporadic at best with the closest hospital a fair distance away. Access to vaccinations, vitamins de-worming and other basic health services are not readily available. The results are tragic: preventable illness, injury and death among mothers, infants and children from disease, flu and diarrhea. 

After four years of working in the slums, GPM has witnessed the tragic consequences of the inaccessibility of health care (see Shravan). We recognized the importance of an integrated approach to caring for the welfare of vulnerable children.  So GPM is partnering with Sundara and the Indian NGO Doctors for You established an accessible maternal and children’s medical clinic, for thousands of children in the heart of the slums where we operate -
The Shravan Health Center. In addition GPM has partnered with mobile medical services in a rural center that will provide regular health check ups to hundreds of children in 25 villages where GPM has literacy and nutrition programs.  

Click here to read more on the Shravan Health Center.

GPM Maternal & Children’s Shravan Health Center in the Kalwa Slum
After four years of providing nutrition, literacy and hygiene support to 1000 children in the slums of Mumbai, it has become clear to the GPM team that this is not enough. Even children who now receive daily, hot, nutritious meals, still live in a daily threat to their well-being based on the lack of medical care in the slums. Certainly the provision of meals has led to a clearly observable improvement in children’s vitality, learning, and attention. However, the lack of access to basic health care has remained a painful impingement on their continued development. 
Some seven million children are living in the slums of India with limited access to clean running water, proper sewage, and electricity. The implications for the children’s health are painfully obvious. According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, India has the highest number of children dying as a result of preventable diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea – 436,000 every year – and little progress has been made in terms of prevention or treatment over the past decade.1  

According to UNICEF, children in India continue to lose their life to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles. Reports also indicate that over 53% children in India under five years live without basic healthcare facilities, and 66% of the poorest children in India receive no or minimal healthcare – in fact, poor children in India are three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children in other parts of the world. And it’s worse for girls than for boys: Indian girls are 61% more likely than boys to die between the ages of one and five. This is because girls are less likely to be taken to a doctor and cared for than boys.

There is an urgent need to provide local, accessible and free medical care for the children of the slums of Mumbai. GPM has the opportunity to provide this service and thus impact the lives of thousands of children in the slum community.
Click here to read more on the Shravan Health Center.

Click here to read more on the health care provided by GPM in rural villages as part of the Love2Learn initiative

[1] T. Jacob John,  On Children’s Day, India’s Child Health Record, Nov 14, 2103

[2] Kounteya Sinha, 53% Indian kids under 5 lack healthcare. TNN | May 8, 2008