Urban public health is one of the most pressing yet neglected issues facing the developing world. Just ask the graduate students from the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health who are currently in the slums of Mumbai, India.
“The poverty problem in the urban slums is even worse than in rural areas,” says Wei-Chen Lee, a doctoral student. “What we are experiencing here in the slums makes us more grateful for what we have.”
During their three weeks overseas, students are being exposed to the socio-economic situation in Mumbai related to public health systems and their effectiveness in an area of the world with an explosive population growth.
“I have been studying the public health issue of maternal healthcare access in the northeastern Mumbai slum of Cheetah Camp,” says Debra K. Kellstedt, a graduate student. “Most striking to me in my short time in the community has been the resourcefulness of the women in getting what they need to help their families survive, including much-needed healthcare.”
Students are learning firsthand of community specific health issues that include disease patterns and causes, as well as general urban health issues and trends.
“Having been there a few months ago, the public health concerns these folks face every day are daunting,” says Craig Blakely, Ph.D., M.P.H., dean of the TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health. “I am looking forward to seeing the energy the students bring back to their studies having been exposed to conditions that are simply not easily located at home. We are excited about our expanding global reach and look forward to working more closely with the handful of other schools aggressively working to improve population health in developing countries across the globe.”