SNEHA (Society for Nutrition Education and Health Action) is a registered not-for-profit organization that has been working in the area of public health in urban slums since 1999. SNEHA works in partnership with communities and health systems building effective and replicable solutions, empowering women
and their families in urban slums to improve their health.

More poor people now live in India’s towns and cities than in rural areas. If 55% of Mumbai’s residents live in slums, it seems extraordinary that the idea of slums remains both so potent and so vague.

SNEHA has been working to improve women and children’s health in Mumbai’s poorer communities since 1999. We combine development activities with interventional and descriptive research, as a result of an unusual alliance between non-government social activists, government health care providers and
academic researchers. SNEHA is involved in 10 projects, on maternal and newborn health, domestic violence, child health & nutrition, and sexual & reproductive health.

A major obstacle to health improvement in urban poor communities is a tendency to generalize because of a lack of fine-grained information. Heterogeneity is the rule, but data used in planning are generally based on large-scale aggregates. We have added to understanding of urban health in several ways. For the first time, we have clearly identified inequalities in health care and outcomes within slum communities, and described the patterns of care-seeking for maternity care. We have developed vulnerability criteria for slum classification, conducted studies on home deliveries, costs of care, delays
in care seeking associated with neonatal deaths, urban traditional birth attendants, domestic violence, women’s agency and postnatal mental health, and contributed to the debate on international research ethics. Our research has also highlighted the ubiquity of health care in the private – and, particularly,
informal – sector.


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