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Concept: Slum


Improving maternal and newborn health in low-income settings requires both health service and community action. Previous community initiatives have been predominantly rural, but India is urbanizing. While working to improve health service quality, we tested an intervention in which urban slum-dweller women’s groups worked to improve local perinatal health.

Concepts: Health care, Infant, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Poverty, Randomized controlled trial, Breastfeeding, Slum


BACKGROUND: Chronic childhood malnutrition remains common in India. As part of an initiative to improve maternal and child health in urban slums, we collected anthropometric data from a sample of children followed up from birth. We described the proportions of underweight, stunting, and wasting in young children, and examined their relationships with age. METHODS: We used two linked datasets: one based on institutional birth weight records for 17 318 infants, collected prospectively, and one based on follow-up of a subsample of 1941 children under five, collected in early 2010. RESULTS: Mean birth weight was 2736 g (SD 530 g), with a low birth weight (<2500 g) proportion of 22%. 21% of infants had low weight for age standard deviation (z) scores at birth (<-2 SD). At follow-up, 35% of young children had low weight for age, 17% low weight for height, and 47% low height for age. Downward change in weight for age was greater in children who had been born with higher z scores. DISCUSSION: Our data support the idea that much of growth faltering was explained by faltering in height for age, rather than by wasting. Stunting appeared to be established early and the subsequent decline in height for age was limited. Our findings suggest a focus on a younger age-group than the children over the age of three who are prioritized by existing support systems.FundingThe trial during which the birth weight data were collected was funded by the ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth (Centre for Child Health and Nutrition), and The Wellcome Trust (081052/Z/06/Z). Subsequent collection, analysis and development of the manuscript was funded by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award: Population Science of Maternal and Child Survival (085417ma/Z/08/Z). D Osrin is funded by The Wellcome Trust (091561/Z/10/Z).

Concepts: Nutrition, The Age, Anthropometry, Child, Childhood, Pediatrics, Standard deviation, Slum


BACKGROUND: Worldwide urbanization has become a crucial issue in recent years. Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most densely-populated countries in the world, has been facing rapid urbanization. In urban areas, maternal indicators are generally worse in the slums than in the urban non-slum areas. The Manoshi program at BRAC, a non governmental organization, works to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in the urban slums of Bangladesh. This paper describes maternal related beliefs and practices in the urban slums of Dhaka and provides baseline information for the Manoshi program. METHODS: This is a descriptive study where data were collected using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The respondents for the quantitative methods, through a baseline survey using a probability sample, were mothers with infants (n = 672) living in the Manoshi program areas. Apart from this, as part of a formative research, thirty six in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted during the same period from two of the above Manoshi program areas among currently pregnant women who had also previously given births (n = 18); and recently delivered women (n = 18). RESULTS: The baseline survey revealed that one quarter of the recently delivered women received at least four antenatal care visits and 24 percent women received at least one postnatal care visit. Eighty-five percent of deliveries took place at home and 58 percent of the deliveries were assisted by untrained traditional birth attendants. The women mostly relied on their landladies for information and support. Members of the slum community mainly used cheap, easily accessible and available informal sectors for seeking care. Cultural beliefs and practices also reinforced this behavior, including home delivery without skilled assistance. CONCLUSIONS: Behavioral change messages are needed to increase the numbers of antenatal and postnatal care visits, improve birth preparedness, and encourage skilled attendance at delivery. Programs in the urban slum areas should also consider interventions to improve social support for key influential persons in the community, particularly landladies who serve as advisors and decision-makers.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Obstetrics, Qualitative research, Quantitative research, Slum, Urbanization


Nairobi, Kenya exhibits a wide variety of micro-climates and heterogeneous surfaces. Paved roads and high-rise buildings interspersed with low vegetation typify the central business district, while large neighborhoods of informal settlements or “slums” are characterized by dense, tin housing, little vegetation, and limited access to public utilities and services. To investigate how heat varies within Nairobi, we deployed a high density observation network in 2015/2016 to examine summertime temperature and humidity. We show how temperature, humidity and heat index differ in several informal settlements, including in Kibera, the largest slum neighborhood in Africa, and find that temperature and a thermal comfort index known colloquially as the heat index regularly exceed measurements at the Dagoretti observation station by several degrees Celsius. These temperatures are within the range of temperatures previously associated with mortality increases of several percent in youth and elderly populations in informal settlements. We relate these changes to surface properties such as satellite-derived albedo, vegetation indices, and elevation.

Concepts: Temperature, Slum, Celsius, Nairobi, Absolute zero, Thermodynamic temperature, Fahrenheit, Kibera


While sanitation interventions have focused primarily on child health, women’s unique health risks from inadequate sanitation are gaining recognition as a priority issue. This study examines the range of sanitation-related psychosocial stressors during routine sanitation practices in Odisha, India. Between August 2013 and March 2014, we conducted in-depth interviews with 56 women in four life stages: adolescent, newly married, pregnant and established adult women in three settings: urban slums, rural villages and indigenous villages. Using a grounded theory approach, the study team transcribed, translated, coded and discussed interviews using detailed analytic memos to identify and characterize stressors at each life stage and study site. We found that sanitation practices encompassed more than defecation and urination and included carrying water, washing, bathing, menstrual management, and changing clothes. During the course of these activities, women encountered three broad types of stressors-environmental, social, and sexual-the intensity of which were modified by the woman’s life stage, living environment, and access to sanitation facilities. Environmental barriers, social factors and fears of sexual violence all contributed to sanitation-related psychosocial stress. Though women responded with small changes to sanitation practices, they were unable to significantly modify their circumstances, notably by achieving adequate privacy for sanitation-related behaviors. A better understanding of the range of causes of stress and adaptive behaviors is needed to inform context-specific, gender-sensitive sanitation interventions.

Concepts: Sociology, Stage, Grounded theory, Slum, Hygiene, Adaptive Behavior, Sanitation, Village


Leptospirosis, a spirochaetal zoonosis, occurs in diverse epidemiological settings and affects vulnerable populations, such as rural subsistence farmers and urban slum dwellers. Although leptospirosis is a life-threatening disease and recognized as an important cause of pulmonary haemorrhage syndrome, the lack of global estimates for morbidity and mortality has contributed to its neglected disease status.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Diseases and disorders, Poverty, Demography, Population, Slum, Cholera, Leptospirosis


Rat-borne leptospirosis is an emerging zoonotic disease in urban slum settlements for which there are no adequate control measures. The challenge in elucidating risk factors and informing approaches for prevention is the complex and heterogeneous environment within slums, which vary at fine spatial scales and influence transmission of the bacterial agent.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Diseases and disorders, Poverty, Slum, Urban decay, Zoonosis, Leptospirosis, Zoonoses


On an urban planet, slums or informal settlements present an increasing challenge for health promotion. The living conditions in complex informal settlements interact with how people navigate through their daily lives and political institutions to shape health inequities. In this article, we suggest that only a relational place-based characterization of informal settlements can accurately capture the forces contributing to existing urban health inequities and inform appropriate and effective health promotion interventions. We explore our relational framework using household survey, spatial mapping and qualitative focus group data gathered in partnership with residents and non-governmental organizations in the Mathare informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. All data interpretation included participation with local residents and organizations. We focus on the inter-relationships between inadequate sanitation and disease, social, economic and human rights for women and girls, who we show are most vulnerable from poor slum infrastructure. We suggest that this collaborative process results in co-produced insights about the meanings and relationships between infrastructure, security, resilience and health. We conclude that complex informal settlements require relational and context-specific data gathering and analyses to understand the multiple determinants of health and to inform appropriate and effective healthy city interventions.

Concepts: Poverty, Human rights, Qualitative research, Slum, Shanty town, Favela, Ghetto, Slums


Bangladesh is one of the 20 countries with highest burden of stunting globally. A large portion (around 2.2 million) of the population dwells in the slum areas under severe vulnerable conditions. Children residing in the slums are disproportionately affected with higher burden of undernutrition particularly stunting. In this paper, findings of a prospective cohort study which is part of a larger multi-country study are presented.

Concepts: Cohort study, Cohort, Epidemiology, Poverty, Slum, Urban decay, Urbanization, House


We assessed knowledge and practices related to antibiotic use in Kibera, an urban informal settlement in Kenya. Surveys was employed at the beginning (entry) and again at the end (exit) of a 5-month longitudinal study of AMR. Two-hundred households were interviewed at entry, of which 149 were also interviewed at exit. The majority (>65%) of respondents in both surveys could name at least one antibiotic, with amoxicillin and cotrimoxazole jointly accounting for 85% and 77% of antibiotics mentioned during entry and exit, respectively. More than 80% of respondents felt antibiotics should not be shared or discontinued following the alleviation of symptoms. Nevertheless, 66% and 74% of respondents considered antibiotics effective for treating colds and flu in the entry and exit surveys, respectively. There was a high (87%, entry; 70% exit) level of reported antibiotic use (past 12 months) mainly for colds/flu, coughs and fever, with >80% of respondents obtaining antibiotics from health facilities and pharmacies. Less than half of respondents remembered getting information on the correct use of antibiotics, although 100% of those who did reported improved attitudes towards antibiotic use. Clinicians and community pharmacists were highly trusted information sources. Paired household responses (n = 149) generally showed improved knowledge and attitudes by the exit survey although practices were largely unchanged. Weak agreement (κ = -0.003 to 0.22) between survey responses suggest both that unintended learning had not occurred, and that participant responses were not based on established knowledge or behaviors. Targeted public education regarding antibiotics is needed to address this gap.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Antibiotic resistance, Antiviral drug, Influenza, United Kingdom, Antibiotic, Household, Slum