Humble Smile Foundation amongst charities working in Bhaskar Nagar Slum
• Humble Smile Foundation, Indian Dental Association and Gabriel Project Charitable Trust continue to address the increasing burden of oral diseases in Bhaskar Nagar slum.
The non-profit organisations Humble Smile Foundation (HSF), Indian Dental Association (IDA), and Gabriel Project Charitable Trust (GPCT) have launched the second phase of the Healthy Homes initiative in Bhaskar Nagar Slum of Kalwa with the aim of promoting healthy and hygienic family habits and lifestyles.
An HSF spokesperson explained: “The project enhances health literacy and habit change among 60 mothers and their families through women gathering groups and home visits conducted by trained community health workers. By the end of the program, mothers will form self-help-groups for continued self-support in adopting healthy lifestyles.
“Evaluation findings of Healthy Homes’ pilot phase in 2020 showed a significant change (35%) in women’s knowledge on oral health, hygiene, and water safety – knowledge that has already translated into impact as two women have quit using tobacco. Laxmi Yadav, one of the participants in the pilot, said: ‘Thanks to the programme, I started to think about my family’s and my own oral health, which I did not do before.’
"As part of the Indian Ministry of Health & Family Welfare’s National Oral Health Programme, Healthy Homes is a collaborative project that tackles the global epidemic of oral diseases and other preventable diseases, in the Bhaskar Nagar slum located in Mumbai Metropolitan Area."
Healthy Homes directly aligns with the ministry’s objectives to integrate oral health promotion and preventive services with the general health care system and to encourage promotion of public and private partnership (PPP) models for achieving better oral health.
Self-sufficiency through women groups
The spokesperson continued: “Research indicates that nearly one third of the Indian population suffer from tooth decay that requires treatment. Oral cancer, being one of the most common cancers, affects 12.6 per 100,000 individuals in India. IDA found that 60% of parents are unaware of their children’s oral health problems.
“Frequent intake of sweets, inefficient oral hygiene practices, and undesirable behaviours (such as tobacco use from a young age) are factors that play a major role in oral disease, as well as other diseases, in Bhaskar Nagar. The result is missing work and school days, impaired physical and psychological well-being and development, and suffering from pain and disability.”
Asha Kamble, Director of Humble Smile Foundation India, added: “Promoting oral and general health through women groups and community health workers is particularly important in Bhaskar Nagar because there is no dental clinic in the slum. Women self-help groups are a common phenomenon in India. These self-governed groups empower women, address family health concerns, and contribute to a self-sufficient community care system. That’s what Healthy Homes is all about.”
COVID-19 in Bhaskar Nagar
Bhaskar Nagar is one of the 42 slums of Kalwa, in Thane district. Families of six or more members live in tiny houses which are divided between a kitchen/ bathroom area and an area to sleep in. The lack of ventilation leads to a constant stench from rotting garbage and open sewers. Numerous lockdowns in Mumbai caused unemployment, reduced income and psychological burden on Bhaskar Nagar’s inhabitants.
While fathers slowly return to work, the financial burden has left its marks in the households, and women tend to sacrifice their well-being – by skipping a meal for example. HSF and GPCT’s Staying Healthy program, supports the most needed families by distributing food packages and raising awareness of COVID-19. COVID-19 guidelines will be strictly followed during all of the project partners’ activities.
For more information about the Humble Smile Foundation, visit https://humblesmile.org/