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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


In 2010, an estimated 860 million people were living in slums worldwide, with around 60 million added to the slum population between 2000 and 2010. In 2011, 200 million people in urban Indian households were considered to live in slums. In order to address and create slum development programmes and poverty alleviation methods, it is necessary to understand the needs of these communities. Therefore, we require data with high granularity in the Indian context. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of highly granular data at the level of individual slums. We collected the data presented in this paper in partnership with the slum dwellers in order to overcome the challenges such as validity and efficacy of self reported data. Our survey of Bangalore covered 36 slums across the city. The slums were chosen based on stratification criteria, which included geographical location of the slum, whether the slum was resettled or rehabilitated, notification status of the slum, the size of the slum and the religious profile. This paper describes the relational model of the slum dataset, the variables in the dataset, the variables constructed for analysis and the issues identified with the dataset. The data collected includes around 267,894 data points spread over 242 questions for 1,107 households. The dataset can facilitate interdisciplinary research on spatial and temporal dynamics of urban poverty and well-being in the context of rapid urbanization of cities in developing countries.

Concepts: Statistics, Poverty, Slum, Urban decay, Urbanization, Millennium Development Goals, Poverty reduction, Shanty town


Several studies have demonstrated a link between young people’s sexual behavior and levels of parental monitoring, parent-child communication, and parental discipline in Western countries. However, little is known about this association in African settings, especially among young people living in high poverty settings such as urban slums. The objective of the study was to assess the influence of parental factors (monitoring, communication, and discipline) on the┬átransition to first sexual intercourse among unmarried adolescents living in urban slums in Kenya.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Marriage, Sexual intercourse, Africa, Poverty, Sociology, Human sexual behavior, Slum


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an urgent public health priority. It is a neglected issue in women’s health, especially in urban slums in Nepal and globally. This study was designed to better understand the IPV experienced by young pregnant women in urban slums of the Kathmandu Valley, as well as to identify their coping strategies, care and support seeking behaviours. Womens' views on ways to prevent IPV were also addressed.

Concepts: Health care, Psychology, Childbirth, Domestic violence, Human behavior, Slum, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley