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The state of urban health in India

Environment and Urbanization, April 2011

The state of urban health in India; comparing the poorest quartile to the rest of the urban population in selected states and cities

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Siddharth Agarwal, Urban Health Resource Centre (UHRC), siddharth@uhrc.in; sids62@yahoo.com

India has the world’s second largest urban population (after China). This paper shows the large disparities within this urban population in health-related indicators. It shows the disparities for child and maternal health, provision for health care and housing conditions between the poorest quartile and the rest of the urban population for India and for several of its most populous states. In the poorest quartile of India’s urban population, only 40 per cent of 12 to 23 month-old children were completely immunized in 2004—2005, 54 per cent of under-five year-olds were stunted, 82 per cent did not have access to piped water at home and 53 per cent were not using a sanitary flush or pit toilet.

The paper also shows the large disparities in eight cities between the poorest population (the population in the city that is within the poorest quartile for India’s urban areas), the population living in settlements classified as “slums” and the non-slum population. It also highlights the poor performance in some health-related indicators for the population that is not part of the poorest quartile in several states — for instance in under-five mortality rates, in the proportion of stunted children and in the proportion of households with no piped water supply to their home.

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