Pauline Oosterhoff, from the Institute of Developement Studies (IDS), presented her policy case study on Urban Health Policy in an Indigenous Context in India as part of a Panel Session on Urbanisation, Health & Policy at the MAGic2015 conference on ‘Anthropology and Global Health: interrogating theory, policy and practice’, which took place at the University of Sussex from 9-11th September 2015. This conference, organised by the EASA Medical Anthropology Network and the RAI Medical Anthropology Committee, aimed to interrogate the paradigms and practice of global health.
The panel was chaired by IDS Fellow Linda Waldman, who opened the session by highlightng that there is little anthropological research detailing health inequity in rapidly-urbanising cities, despite the fact that there is increasing recognition of the health, environment and urbanisation intersections and growing academic and policy recognition of the peri-urban as critical for development. This panel session was organised in order to bring the peri-urban to the fore, as it often gets subsumed into other areas of research.
Read more about the panel presentations and see their PowerPoint slides below.
Gender and urban health policy in India
Pauline presented on gender and women’s participation in reproductive health policymaking in state and indigenous governance systems, drawing on research in Shillong, Meghalaya, India. The research asked how urban health needs are prioritised, and if and how women can participate in decisions about sexual and reproductive health (SRH). She found that there are many layers of exclusion – women can vote, but are unable to hold office within the traditional system. It is socially unacceptable for men to discuss women’s SRH, and so SRH is not part of the discussions in the traditional system and decisions are made by men. Pauline then showed a couple of the digital storytelling videos that were produced by indigenous women in Shillong.
Community perspecitves on Pollution and Health in Ghaziabad, India
The second presentation by Ramilla Bisht of Jawaharlal Nehru University – “Peri-urbanism in Globalising India: Community perspecitves on Pollution and Health in Ghaziabad” – outlined research in progress which aims to understand the diverse perspectives on health and risk in Kahera – a village on the periphery of Delhi. Many high polluting industries are being relocated to Kahera, where many people still rely on agricultural production as a livelihood. Many of the people living in Kahera recognise the correlation between their (ill-) health and the proximity of the factories, and argue that the factories cause ill-health. Additionally, many government and scientific research documents acknowledge that the polluted nature of villages like Kahera are breeding grounds for disease. However, this does not translate to interventions on the ground to address these conditions.
Health-seeking by peri-urban migrant labouring Dalit residents
Ritu Priya, also from Jawaharlal Nehru University, made the final presentation titled “Health-seeking by peri-urban/urban migrant labouring Dalit residents: tracing perceptions over twenty-five years”. Ritu examined four different pieces of research that have taken place over the last 25 years and asked what the links are between these four studies on perceptions of environment and health in the context of their increasing empowerment? The picture was mixed: in one case, there was clear empowerment; in another case, some Dalit migrants had increased well-being and empowerment, while others didn’t; in yet another case, there were increasing levels of disempowerment; and in the final case (the research presented by Ramilla) it is yet to be determined as the research is in progress.