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Slumdog Millionaire Put Spotlight on Slums in Developing World Now, Health Visionary Helps Turn Urban Blight into Hope
Date:3/31/2010

Jhpiego’s Jane Otai, Kenyan health leader, tells dramatic turn-around stories

Baltimore, MD (Vocus) March 31, 2010 -- Thanks to the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, the desperate living conditions and woefully inadequate health services of millions of urban residents were brought to world attention. No one seems to escape except the miraculous but fictional star of the film. Until now…

If there’s a silver lining to the tragic urban stories, it’s that Jane Otai, a Kenyan health worker, has used the worldwide attention to focus on bringing hope and real change to those often hopeless slums. Over the past five years, her work in the Nairobi slums of Korogocho and Viwandani has empowered residents through community outreach and health education programs. She has played a pivotal role in bridging the cultural and social divide between government-run health clinics and communities to ensure that women have access to services for safe motherhood and care of their children. Otai, from a global health non-profit organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins called Jhpiego, has pioneered new approaches to involving residents in decisions about the health of their families and now hopes to share her methods around the globe. Otai will be in the U.S. from April 4–16 and will speak about her work at various events including one at the Wallace Global Fund on Tuesday, April 6.

More than half of humanity now lives in an urban setting. Africa is urbanizing faster than any other continent and, according to a 2007 report by the United Nations Population Fund, an astonishing 72 percent of urban residents live in slums. The city
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