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FHS India Research Brief 5: How healthy are the children of the Indian Sundarbans?

Future Health Systems

The health situation of children in the Indian Sundarbans couldn’t be more precarious. Facing chronic malnutrition as well as a high prevalence of easily preventable but highly communicable diseases, access for children to health services in the region is complicated by the rough terrain and the winding tidal rivers of the deltaic region. Increasingly frequent climatic shocks, such as flooding and cyclones, threaten to tip the balance and create an even more difficult health situation for all – but especially children – in the Sundarbans.

The key question is, what can be done to improve the health situation of children in the Sundarbans, a region with a population of roughly 4.5 million people? To tackle this, FHS designed a series of studies into a representative block in the Sundarbans – Patharpratima – to get a better picture of the health problems being faced, the current state of the health system, and how people access and make decisions about accessing those services.

This briefing starts by outlining the several methodologies employed in the study. It then considers both the demand and supply sides for child-centred health services in the block. It concludes with recommendations for beginning to repair the fractured health system there.