Health is not the privilege of a chosen few

The health situation in the country today is an evolving canvas. With 1.8 million deaths among children (age <5 years) and 68,000 deaths among mothers every year, and 52 million children who are stunted, India’s burden of reproductive health, and child health and nutrition is greater than that in any other country.

While there is development, the pace is slow and falls short of national and MDG targets. Chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, mental health disorders, diabetes, cancer and injuries are the leading causes of death and disability in India, and are projected to have a pronounced increase in their contribution to the burden of disease during the next 25 years.

Although the burden of infectious diseases has decreased as a result of overall socioeconomic progress and increasing use of vaccines and antimicrobials in the past 60 years, they still contribute about 30% of the disease burden in India. While the control of HIV and leprosy seems to be successful, control of diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria is a concern. Underlying all this is the fact that India has a severe shortage of human resources for health with the available workforce being concentrated in urban areas. The health system has limitations in planning, financing, human resources, infrastructure, supply systems, governance and monitoring. (Source: The Lancet series on India 2011)

For decades now, Tata Trusts have been engaged in the field of public health, developing and supporting initiatives to address some of the major issues.

The broad areas of engagement of the Trusts’ health portfolio fall into the following domains:

  • Women and child health focused primary care and nutrition.
  • Non-communicable diseases with a focus on mental health, detection and early intervention for developmental disabilities in children (under the age of 6), and cancer care.
  • Human resources for health.

Bangles of health

Pregnant women in Ghazipur wear bangles, whose colour denote their health status and compliance to health instructions