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Hello Delhi

As we weaved through the rush hour traffic, heading east from the airport in a small four-door vehicle, I was immediately taken aback by the apparent Nascar-esque aspirations of the taxi driver. You know that turn toward the end of the race where the one guy pulls around the outer edge of the lane, speeding towards the finish line as the rest of his opponents gun for second, third, and fourth? Yep. That was us.

Then I realized that everyone was gunning for first place…. Yikes…

 
Numbers from the traffic accidents brief that I worked on this past winter with some of the members of the IFs team came flooding back into my mind: A high saturation of rather dysfunctional vehicles, mixed with mediocre roads, erratic pedestrians, and either poor (or ignored) traffic signals, plus little in the way of police enforcement =

well… you probably get the picture…

So we were off!! Dodging and weaving through the mess that was the two (or was it three or even four-lane….? I’m not sure we were paying attention to lanes [don’t worry, mom]) –lane road as we worked our way toward Greater Kailash II (or GK II, as it is called here). This was to be home for the next month and a half.

 

We made it. And that was a car…. I think the tuk-tuks came in third, and the rickshaws came in last…. It wasn’t even a close race….

 

The next morning we had a focus group meeting with the absolutely wonderful staff at the Jaishanker Memorial Center/Gender Resource Center in Jasola. Led by a fellow Korbel/DU researcher, Majo Aldana, and helped along by some of our fantastic interpreters, we had the opportunity to talk to the women about what they perceive as the biggest health issues facing women and children in the slums that border the Yamuna River in South New Delhi. I was impressed. The staff members are dedicated, and there are plans in place for the summer.

 

That being said – what am I doing here anyway?

The women and children’s educational center we’re working with in New Delhi are interested in developing a new survey tool to help community health mobilizers better understand and ultimately respond to the individual needs of pregnant women and young mothers. This includes noticing signs of various infections or diseases while pregnant, as well as ensuring that children under the age of two are cared for in the best way possible.

In terms the status quo; past and current paper-and-pen based methodologies for the execution of surveys and response mechanisms have been seen as a slow and time consuming process. Diarrhea can lead to the demise of an infant rather quickly. That being said, the goal is to speed up the survey ->analysis->response time through the use of simple technologies that can remove a step or two from the process.

As of now the debate is over the type of survey tool (SMS vs. Tablet-based, for example), and what indicators (eg. your child has [problem A] + [problem x] = you should probably contact [person y] and give them [medicines A, B, and C]).  This may sound simple in theory. Often it is not in practice, and creates high mortality rates for children under the age of two.

This is something that I’ll be writing about in greater depth as the summer progresses, and we put together more of a plan for a pilot project.

I hesitate to add much more to this post, because I really know less than nothing about this place, and have quite a bit of listening and learning to do. But, here are some parting thoughts:

  1. Delhi is a city of 12.5 million people  (woah!)
  2. India is supercalifragilisticexpialidociously gigundo in size.
  3. The city has a distinct smell.
  4. We have a lot of work to do. And not just here on this project, but globally. This level of poverty is difficult observe from a tuk-tuk or a training room. Imagine living it. Seems to me that we all have a duty to think about ways to improve the well being of all people.

Signing off for today. More to come.

 

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