Dr Jill Biden, wife of U. S. Vice-President Joe Biden, visited the PFI-HUP program in Kachhpura slum of Agra on July 23, 2013 to see the USAID-funded Health of the Urban Poor Program which works at improving maternal and child health, and nutrition. She was accompanied by her daughter, Ashley, and son-in-law, Howard David Krein.
Dr Jill Biden interacted with members of the Adarsh Mahila Arogya Samiti and saw the proceedings of the Urban Health and Nutrition Day at the anganwadi centre within the slum.
PFI-HUP is strengthening a community-level health care service delivery model by promoting convergence among different government departments, and facilitating community mobilization for increased utilization of services in selected slums of Agra. PFI-HUP’s intervention in Kachhpura focuses on bridging the gap between the community and the service providers, and improving the demand and regular use of health services through regular information-education, home visits, tracking pregnant and new mothers and their babies through the Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS), and generating awareness on safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.
Kachhpura is a notified slum with a total population of 3205 residing in 443 households. There are two Anganwadi centres within the slum. There is no public health facility within the slum; the nearest government health facility is about four kilometres away. Half of the slum’s population is involved in the city’s shoe making industry.
Dr Biden was received at Kachhpura by Dr Sainath Banerjee, Chief of Party, PFI-HUP program, and Dr Swati Mahajan, Manager, City Program, PFI-HUP who helped coordinate the visit. Dr Mahajan introduced Dr Biden to the 11 members of the Adarsh Mahila Arogya Samiti (MAS), which was formed in January 2012 through consultation with the community. Dr Biden was informed about MAS’ role in making the community aware of the maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition services. MAS members prepare a Health Resource Map, an effective planning and monitoring tool to track the mother and child for immunization. Dr Biden appreciated their role in improving the health of the community and the fact that their work had led to their self empowerment and made them model leaders. Her impressions were reflected in her encouraging words, “Thank you for all your wonderful work to empower women.”
Dr Biden visited the local anganwadi centre to see the Urban Health and Nutrition Day (UHND) in progress. She was greeted by representatives of the departments of Women and Child Development, Health and Family Welfare and Urban Development. She was informed that UHND acts as an effective point of convergence among the key departments and serves as a common platform for providing maternal and child health care services to the community once every month. Dr Biden observed the distribution of the Take Home Ration, a nutritional supplement. She saw the ongoing vaccination and administered two polio drops to a six-week old baby girl. Dr Biden also met with pre-school children at the anganwadi centre and gifted books to them.
She was keen to know how PFI-HUP addresses antenatal care. She was told about the referral system for institutional delivery and the ambulance service. The name based mother and child tracking system developed by the HUP Program was also explained to her. The visitors were told about the National Immunization Schedule and its effectiveness in addressing disease prevention. Dr Biden also learnt about the partnership between PFI-HUP and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the technical support provided by PFI-HUP in the roll out of the National Urban Health Mission.