The vulnerability of urban households to climate change-led events needs attention in India

Syllabus: Disaster management

Context

Households in less developed parts of a city such as slums and urban settlement colonies are likely to be the most vulnerable groups. A large majority of them live in poverty, working in the informal sector of the urban economy with no social security benefits.

Disease vulnerability

  • While households in general with poor socio-economic indicators are more vulnerable to malaria, it is urban households, when compared to their rural counterparts, that are significantly at a much greater odds of suffering from malaria and dengue.
  • Households from climatically high and moderately high vulnerable States are at greater odds of suffering from malaria.
  • Post the monsoon season, water and vector-borne disease management officials are on high alert to monitor and contain the spread of such diseases.
  • Controlling the spread of these diseases requires a systematic and coordinated effort not only within but also between two or more States.

Rebuild the health system

  • A resilient health system is one which can respond to emergency situations, prepare well in advance against impending crises and adapt to changing public health needs.
  • A crucial prerequisite : greater public investment with an immediate focus on most vulnerable urban areas.
  • The limited and varied ability of urban local bodies in generating revenues constraints progress.
  • A large part of preventive and public health functions are the responsibilities of local bodies.

The COVID-19 experience

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that public health emergencies need greater coordination and cooperation across various actors in terms of knowledge and data sharing, preventive and curative functions, treatment practices and, above all, the regulation of rates and standards.
  • The realm of surveillance and information systems such as the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme needs to be universalised, made comprehensive and strengthened.
  • An immediate step could be to create multi-purpose, front line public health cadres in urban areas, who would be accountable to communities as well as to the health system.
  • Also address one of the key challenges – a shortage of an adequately trained workforce in health and allied areas.

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