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Urban Poor in Dire Need of Proper Healthcare: Report

Healthcare facilities in urban India continue to be "alarmingly dismal" with over 180 million urban poor having only 1,083 family welfare centres// to diagnose their diseases, says an industry analysis.

At least 300 additional urban health and family welfare centres need to be set up annually to cater to the needs of 215 million urban poor by 2020, says a report by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

In India, currently, 1083 urban family welfare centres look after 2,60,000 urban patients, while the effective serving rate comes out to be 60,000 patients only, it said.

"The growth of urban population is higher than in rural years. India is home to about 300 million urban population. Rapid urbanisation has resulted in a concomitant increase in the number of people residing in the slums under appalling living conditions," said an Assocham statement.

Around 30 percent of urban dwellers are poor and urban poverty contributes to approximately 25 percent of total poverty in India.

Some key findings of the study are:

* One of out of 15 children do not even complete the first year of their birth.
* More than half of India's urban poor children are underweight.
* Over 70,000 babies die in the first month of life.
* One out of every 10 children born during the year do not see their 5th or 6th birthday.
* About 60 percent of children are not completely immunised by 1 year of age.
* Out of 10, three children are affected with diarrhea, malaria and other diseases.
Lauding the efforts of corporate houses like Tata Steel and Ranbaxy, which have made significant contributions to healthcare for the urban slums, ASSOCHAM has asked the private sector, to act as a front-runner by enhancing the accessibility of medical assistance to the urban poor.

It has also recommended the leading pharma companies of the country, such as Nicholas Piramal, Pfizer, Sandoz, Elder Pharmaceuticals, Shalaks Pharma to supply medicines and other essential items at the urban healthcare centres at an affordable rate.

"In 2005-06, the government allocated a sum of Rs.1.37 billion for the urban family welfare centres for their revamp which is more than inadequate for the present population of urban poor," the statement said.

It has also called for the renovation of urban hospitals and dispensaries by properly equipping them with adequate manpower, essential drugs and supplies.

Public-private partnership in ensuring the urban poor's access to healthcare services can also be worked out as a viable option, it said.


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