Women’s Commitment to Community Health: Nutrition, Education, and Vaccinations in Partnership with USAID

 

One of my first stops in India was a visit to the settlement of Kachhpura in Agra. Located on the banks of the Yamuna River it offers beautiful views of the Taj Mahal. The settlement has a total population of around 3,205 people and 90% of the households are connected to water lines that are supplied for 6-8 hours daily and around 50% of houses have individual toilets connected to private septic tanks.

Since 2011 the USAID Health and Urban Poor (HUP) Program has been working in this settlement. Their work has been focused on mapping the health infrastructure as well as bridging the gap between the community and the service providers. There is no public health facility within the settlement and most referrals are to a hospital that is around seven miles away. One focus of both HUP and the Indian government has been to collect information to track every mother and child by name-an ongoing initiative throughout the country. This helps track the health of the mother and her newborn and link them to public sector health facilities. 

USAID’s activity in Kachhpura has helped mobilize the Mahila Arogya Samit, a women's community group. The members are not only model leaders in their communities, but they also contribute to improved health outcomes for the whole community. 

In the settlement, I toured and visited with workers and volunteers from the nutrition and vaccination facilities. I was taught and administered an oral dose of the polio vaccine to an infant, a simple but important medical step in continuing to eradicate this disease worldwide. The partnership between USAID and the government of India to improve the lives of the residents of the settlement was impressive to witness. After traveling to Africa, nutrition advancement has been an area of interest to me and I am proud that USAID has decided to partner with the Indian government to help end malnutrition.

Dr. Jill Biden visits the Taj Mahal.

Dr. Jill Biden visits the Taj Mahal, July 23, 2013. (Photo from instagram.com/whitehouse)

After leaving the village, we went across the river to the Taj Mahal. Our visit there was nothing short of magnificent. The mausoleum, the surrounding buildings, and the gardens were completed in the 17th century. Ashley, Howard, and I will cherish the opportunity we had today to visit this renowned piece of Mughal architecture, a monument of love from Shah Jahan to his wife. India has left a beautiful cultural mark on the world and there is perhaps no greater example of this than the Taj Mahal.

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