Women’s collectives address health determinants in urban slums of Indore, India
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Urban Health Resource Centre, Research Associate, 136A, Humayupur, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi, India
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A788
Background and Objective:
Accessing timely, affordable services is a crucial health determinant urban for urban poor in India. Urban Health Resource Centre (UHRC) mentors slum-based women’s savings groups in slums of Indore, India. Each group comprises of 10-12 members. We studied how collective savings and loans help families of women’s groups in addressing health determinants.

Interviews were carried out during 2022 with 2 women office-bearers each from 10 women’s groups formed between 2010 to 2015. Interviews covered reasons for borrowing from saving’s group and how the collectives contributed to meeting their family’s health needs.

Women borrowed to meet medical costs and prevent delay in seeking care. This involved arranging for cost of emergency transportation to the health facility by borrowing from collective pool at midnight. Women borrowed in advance for planned expenses including birth-preparedness, delivery, other surgical or medical treatment and repay in instalments. Being part of women’s groups contributed to enhanced knowledge of health care including pregnancy care, facilities for delivery, other treatment at Government/low-cost private health facilities. Improved access to outreach services such as Antenatal check-up and registration, vaccination during pregnancy and childhood. Women drew loans to purchase grains at harvest time to cater to families’ nutritional requirements.

Women’s groups in slums can address several determinants of health in slums and contribute towards fulfilling SDG 3. Group meetings also helped women in establishing stronger social cohesion and gain knowledge about healthcare. Continuous mentoring by CSOs plays a crucial role in smooth functioning of savings groups. Government policies in India such as National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) mandate formation of women’s health groups but the implementation remains weak on ground. UHRC’s approach can potentially guide policy implementation to sustain savings groups in slums with effective Government-CSO partnerships.

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