AMU faculty member delivers plenary speech
Aligarh : Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) faculty member from the Department of Community Medicine, J N Medical College (JNMC), Prof Saira Mehnaz elucidated the health and economic impacts of the pandemic on Indian slum residents and their vulnerability due to the unhygienic environment and high population density.
She was delivering the online plenary speech on ‘Indian Slums: Post Covid Scenario’ in ‘The 5th Global Public Health Conference 2022’ on ‘Future of Global Health in a Changing World’ of The International Institute of Knowledge Management (TIIKM) in collaboration with the University of Cyberjaya (Malaysia) and International Association of Public Health.
Speaking on the socio economic impact of pandemic on slum dwellers, Prof Saira said: “People in slums live below the subsistence level in a range of ways and many reports and surveys have suggested that the pandemic left them poorer and hungry”.
She pointed out that urban slum populations were more in peril because of high population density, informal employment, and weak health services.
“Small scale industries and labour sector in the underserved slum population of India were the hardest hit due to the Covid spread and subsequent lockdowns. The poor living conditions, malnutrition and weakened immune systems made slum dwellers more vulnerable”, Prof Saira said adding that the Covid crisis forced authorities and local people to rethink sanitation and public health issues.
She added: After three Covid waves, slums have now started getting the required attention and residents have become more cautious.
Prof Saira spoke about how the pandemic threw a large number of slum dwellers out of work, and sharply reduced earnings for those who remained employed in some fashion.
“With the collapse of purchasing power and continued restrictions, the economic crisis continued well after the lockdown. There was a severe disruption of public services including nutrition-related services”, she said.
Prof Saira pointed out that the crisis also increased the gender gap and inequality.
“The job loss during the pandemic has impacted women grievously, upending their lives with ramifications that are irreversible. The pandemic has increased their unpaid work and has put extra burden on women through increased domestic responsibilities, household chores and child care demands”, she stressed.