Slumdog Millionaire Put Spotlight on Slums in Developing World Now, Health Visionary Helps Turn Urban Blight into Hope

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Jhpiego’s Jane Otai, Kenyan health leader, tells dramatic turn-around stories

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Thanks to the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, the desperate living conditions and woefully inadequate health services of millions of urban residents were brought to world attention. No one seems to escape except the miraculous but fictional star of the film. Until now…

If there’s a silver lining to the tragic urban stories, it’s that Jane Otai, a Kenyan health worker, has used the worldwide attention to focus on bringing hope and real change to those often hopeless slums. Over the past five years, her work in the Nairobi slums of Korogocho and Viwandani has empowered residents through community outreach and health education programs. She has played a pivotal role in bridging the cultural and social divide between government-run health clinics and communities to ensure that women have access to services for safe motherhood and care of their children. Otai, from a global health non-profit organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins called Jhpiego, has pioneered new approaches to involving residents in decisions about the health of their families and now hopes to share her methods around the globe. Otai will be in the U.S. from April 4–16 and will speak about her work at various events including one at the Wallace Global Fund on Tuesday, April 6.

More than half of humanity now lives in an urban setting. Africa is urbanizing faster than any other continent and, according to a 2007 report by the United Nations Population Fund, an astonishing 72 percent of urban residents live in slums. The city of Nairobi, Kenya, has seen this explosion of growth. The residents of the capital’s slums face the risk of death, disease and violence daily. However, global organizations like Jhpiego, the Rockefeller Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wallace Global Fund are making progress and improving the lives of urban dwellers. Here are some examples:

  •     Increased Access to Health Care—Jhpiego has trained more than 200 slum-based health care providers, who have reached more than 250,000 people. These workers connect community residents to a variety of health services including reproductive and maternal and child health, nutrition, sanitation and disease prevention.
  •     HIV Counseling and Treatment—Of the 10,653 clients accessing antenatal care, 80 percent received services for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Services for HIV-positive residents were expanded through establishment of four comprehensive care clinics.
  •     Family Planning Services—Through community health programs and educational outreach, Jhpiego health care workers have raised the level of acceptance of family planning options among residents. By example, the number of women using oral contraceptives in 2008 grew from 2,697 in the first six months of the year to 12,925 in the second half of the year, an increase of 479 percent

Otai will share her inspiring story of achievement and progress at several events including a briefing on urban health for the Congressional Women’s Caucus. Additionally, on Tuesday, April 6, Otai will speak at the Wallace Global Fund.

WHAT:    Health Care in the Urban Slums

WHEN:    Tuesday, April 6, 2010, 10:00 to 11:30 AM

WHERE:     Wallace Global Fund, 1990 M Street, NW, Suite 250, Washington, D.C.

MEDIA:    Media are invited to attend this event. Please RSVP to Jamie Watt at     (410) 243-3790 or jamie(at)profilespr(dot)com.    

Available for Interviews:
Jane Otai, Urban Health Advisor at Jhpiego, will be available to discuss the growing problem of slum development throughout the world, particularly the Nairobi slums, and how the progress being made in the slums will help reach the Millennium Development Goals for Maternal and Child Health.

About Jhpiego
Jhpiego (pronounced "ja-pie-go"), is an international non-profit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. For 35 years, Jhpiego has empowered front-line health workers by designing and implementing effective, low-cost, hands-on solutions to strengthen the delivery of health care services for women and their families. Jhpiego works to break down barriers to high-quality health care for the world’s most vulnerable populations. For more information go to http://www.jhpiego.org.

Jamie Watt
Profiles, Inc.
jamie(at)profilespr(dot)com
410. 243.3790

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Jamie Watt
Jhpiego
(410) 243-3790
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