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Priorities & Prevention

Emergency health needs are obviously the first to be addressed in low-income communities – but what about everything else?

Photo of Meena Kadri
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Reflecting on the health landscape in low-income communities took me back to ethnographic fieldwork I did in Mumbai's largest slum, Dharavi, a few years back. Most people I spoke to would prioritise emergencies and children's illness. This meant that many not so urgent ailments, long term concerns or preventative measures would not receive the attention of local doctors and health workers. I noted many conditions which could have been prevented through earlier intervention – but sadly when folks are living financially day-to-day or week-to-week, they need to make tough decisions over what they can afford. I'm looking forward to seeing innovative social business ideas from the OpenIDEO community during the upcoming Concepting phase that will consider such conditions.

And if you're concerned about the little boy pictured here – don't worry – within a few days he was fully recovered and back to making mischief!


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You have touched upon fundamental issues here. I haven't done any field work but i have seen our household maids panic when it comes to their children's health. They stretch themselves pretty hard to cater to their children but since they live on monthly salaries it is a very bitter trade off between health care for children and other equally important needs.

Also, they remain very resistive to treat ailments that do not have any short term impact. From what i have noticed, Eye care and treatment for diabetes are some of the most common ailments that are very easily taken for granted.

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