While examining a 10-month old child at Matunga Labour camp in Dharavi, Dr Bharati Shanbhag chided the mother for stopping vitamin and calcium tonic for the child. “Please tell your husband that these nutrients are important for your child,” she told the mother.
Every month mothers at Dharavi flock the health camps organised by SNEHA. The camps are held at each beat at least twice a month. The check ups are geared towards treating children with malnutrition as well as children with normal growth rate who fall sick.
On Wednesday, 13 children were examined by the doctor mostly with monsoon ailments such as diarrohea and other infections. The community organisers at SNEHA inform the mothers at their door steps about the health camp and are compelled to give reminders when they don’t turn up.
Dr Shanbhag who worked at with a public sector undertaking said that handling children in Dharavi is tough because of the community is migratory. “It is very difficult to follow up with these patients. Parents do not follow up on vaccination and check ups,” she said.
The children at Dharavi usually get recurring diarrhoea and other infections which constantly bring down the weight of the child. This is one of the causes of malnourishment.
“The children start walking and step out of the house picking anything on dirty corridors between the houses to eat. If there is more than one child in the house, the infection spreads easily, she said.
Dr Shanbhag has been working for over a year. “I feel the situation has improved since the past one year. The community organisers who visit them regularly have made all the difference. The immunisation programme is followed better now. Also, the parents have started understanding the importance of sanitation and nutrition, ” said Dr Shanbhag.