Home­less in Delhi bat­tle dis­eases in rainy sea­son

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - Front Page - Mal­lica Joshi mal­lica.joshi@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: The cold gets them in win­ter, in mon­soon it is disease.

Home­less in the city suf­fer the year round.

Ac­cord­ing to data avail­able with Delhi Po­lice, the num­ber of uniden­ti­fied bod­ies found in the first 12 days of Jan­uary this year is about the same as the num­ber found in the first 12 days of July.

Be­tween Jan­uary 1 and 12, 98 uniden­ti­fied bod­ies were found in Delhi. Be­tween July 1 and July 12 this num­ber was 94.

While it is im­pos­si­ble to find out how many of these were home­less, the po­lice say an av­er­age of 60% found dead on Delhi’s roads and fields fall in the cat­e­gory.

That makes the num­ber of home­less deaths 59 in Jan­uary and 54 in July.

Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts who work with the home­less, wa­ter­borne and mos­quito-borne dis­eases as well as skin ail­ments are fairly com­mon in the home­less pop­u­la­tion dur­ing mon­soon.

Some, who are not cared for, die by the time the mon­soon sea­son ends in Septem­ber.

“In the health camps we hold, we find there are a num­ber of home­less who are suf­fer­ing from di­ar­rhoea, in­fluenza and sink dis­eases. Some suf­fer from dengue. Heat stroke is very com­mon. Sadly, our thoughts about the home­less are lim­ited only to bricks and blan­kets in the win­ters,” said San­jay Ku­mar of the Aashray Ad­hikar Ab­hiyan, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that has been work­ing with the home­less for over 15 years and man­ages 30 home­less shel­ters in the city.

The oc­cu­pancy rates of home­less shel­ters, which of­fer not only shel­ter but also sup­port in the form of a com­mu­nity, also fall after the cold win­ter months. SAN­JAY KU­MAR, Aashray Ad­hikar Ab­hiyan

Ac­cord­ing to data avail­able with the Delhi Ur­ban Shel­ter Im­prove­ment Board, while in Jan­uary the oc­cu­pancy rates in per­ma­nent night shel­ters are an av­er­age 10,000 peo­ple for a space of 16,000, in July, this comes down to about 4,000.

Ac­cess­ing health­care fa­cil­i­ties is not easy for the home­less peo­ple who live with­out the sup­port­ive frame­work of NGOs and com­mu­nity that home­less shel­ters can pro­vide.

“The big­gest prob­lem is we don’t tackle the root of home­less­ness and don’t try to in­te­grate a home­less per­son in the so­ci­ety. The ef­forts that are made in win­ters to bring the com­mu­nity to­gether dis­in­te­grate in March as Delhi gets warmer. The home­less pop­u­la­tion is also very het­ero­ge­neous and float­ing, adding to the prob­lem,” said Ku­mar.

In the health camps we hold... Some suf­fer from dengue. Heat stroke is very com­mon. Sadly, our thoughts about the home­less are lim­ited only to bricks and blan­kets in the win­ters.

While in Jan­uary, the oc­cu­pancy rates in night shel­ters are an av­er­age 10,000 peo­ple for a space of 16,000, in July, this comes down to about 4,000. SONU ME­HTA / HT FILE PHOTO

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