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The communities who live in urban informal settlements are diverse, as are their environmental conditions. Characteristics include inadequate access to safe water and sanitation, poor quality of housing, overcrowding, and insecure residential status. Interventions to improve health should be equity-driven and target those at higher risk, but it is not clear how to prioritise informal settlements for health action. In implementing a maternal and child health programme in Mumbai, India, we had conducted a detailed vulnerability assessment which, though important, was time-consuming and may have included collection of redundant information. Subsequent data collection allowed us to examine three issues: whether community environmental characteristics were associated with maternal and newborn healthcare and outcomes; whether it was possible to develop a triage scorecard to rank the health vulnerability of informal settlements based on a few rapidly observable characteristics; and whether the scorecard might be useful for future prioritisation. The City Initiative for Newborn Health documented births in 48 urban slum areas over 2 years. Information was collected on maternal and newborn care and mortality, and also on household and community environment. We selected three outcomes-less than three antenatal care visits, home delivery, and neonatal mortality-and used logistic regression and classification and regression tree analysis to test their association with rapidly observable environmental characteristics. We developed a simple triage scorecard and tested its utility as a means of assessing maternal and newborn health risk. In analyses on a sample of 10,754 births, we found associations of health vulnerability with inadequate access to water, toilets, and electricity; non-durable housing; hazardous location; and rental tenancy. A simple scorecard based on these had limited sensitivity and positive predictive value, but relatively high specificity and negative predictive value. The scorecard needs further testing in a range of urban contexts, but we intend to use it to identify informal settlements in particular need of family health interventions in a subsequent program.
UCL Centre for International Health and Development, Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford St, London, WC1N 1EH, UK, email@example.com.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of urban health : bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine
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