Urban slum communities have right to health, too


For the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population is living in urban settings. With the fastest migration to cities occurring in low- and middle-income countries, governments are failing to provide adequate infrastructural growth. This has resulted in brimming urban slums, often built on abandoned private properties. These impromptu settlements are peripheral – geographically, socially, and politically.

Slum families are precariously considered “undocumented” inhabitants of a municipality, without governmental recognition, representation, and perhaps most importantly, without governmental health services.

Urban slums like Mlolongo (Nairobi, Kenya) are growing rapidly, but, are “invisible” to government decisionmakers. Despite efforts of local NGOs like the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Project to lobby for service provision, the ten-year-old slum is still deemed a “temporary problem” for the municipality. But, unlike the flimsy materials comprising the slumdwellers’ homes, these settlements anything but temporary. (The nearby and world-renowned Kibera slum was established in the early 1900s.)

In an attempt to provide basic healthcare and parenting support, the OVC Project has established a shadow-troop of Community Health Workers (CHWs) similar to the official CHW strategy employed by the Kenyan Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation

Urban slums have extreme challenges with access to potable water, and high under-five mortality, communicable diseases rates, and other health inequities – Mlolongo needs help.

If the local government cannot provide adequate infrastructure to meet the needs of its growing population, then it ought to fulfill its responsibility to recognize and address the basic needs of all of its citizens.

Image [Photo: R. Minhas]


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2 Responses to “Urban slum communities have right to health, too”

  1. sbfphc Says:

    retweets at Ghetto Emperor and Shams Syed retweeted you
    2 hrs:#SBFPHC Blog: Urban slum communities have right to health, too http://sb

  2. barnold120 Says:

    It’s true, so often urban areas are considered more accessible than rural and super-rural areas, but they present their own challenges to public health. Strategies have to change for many disease control problems, such as for malaria, where sometimes the most effective interventions in rural areas are very different in urban or slum areas. The same goes for water and sanitation, maternal and child health, communicable diseases, and more. These systems and strategies should really be set up at the same time a “temporary” slum or settlement area is created, and even include how to transition all sectors to something permanent, if that is what should happen. Good job.

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