Mumbra, a part of Mumbai, historically had been a ship building centre. It's surrounded by Wafai hills in the north eastern part of the Central Mumbai on the coast line of the Arabian sea. It became an agricultural land area in 1975 of the greater Bombay regions. It is known for the slang and also street food. It saw a rapid population growth between 1968 and 1975. By 1990 the Thane Municipal Committee allowed construction of planned buildings and this led to urbanization and development. The unfortunate Mumbai riots of 1991 following the Babri Masjid demolition changed the complete demography.
A large population of Muslim minorities mainly daily wagers who felt threatened fled from various areas of the city to Mumbra because it looked safe, affordable, with some space for them. This area now is inhabited by more than 12 lakh people with at least 75 % Muslims. There is also a significant population of Buddhists and Kalwas (fishermen community) besides Hindus. The area, although bustling with activities, still has inadequate medical facilities with only one Govt general hospital. For this reason, we decided to go there to see for ourselves how we can help by cooperating with like minded groups to take our “No Heart Attack Mission” to this neglected area close to the financial hub of India, which can be reached within 90 minutes from Central Mumbai.
The migrant population has very poor documentation for getting Ration cards and other cards like Aadhaar and golden cards of Ayushman Bharat etc. The voters list of the region, with a population of around 12 lakhs has barely 1 lakh listed. Adding to this issue, the numbers go on being deleted because of poor documentation.
The partner of Gauri Kaul Foundation, Umeed Foundation is based in Mumbra. It was founded in 2011 by Parvez Farid who is the founder president and CEO. This NGO has done commendable work for the disabled children and youth by way of getting an institution for skill development for these unfortunate deaf, mutes, physically and mentally challenged persons. They use modern technology to provide training to these victims of genetic aberrations to make them an independent part of our society. Many of these students have been gainfully employed in the city of Mumbai. The foundation in addition feeds the hungry people who do not get daily emoluments or get sick.
With the cooperation of Mr Parvez Farid and Ajaz Rashid the COO who also actively handles Gauri Kaul foundation worked hard for the logistics. We organized a camp for patients suffering from heart diseases on 8th November. A team of local general physicians joined us in this effort. An electrocardiogram, blood sugar, and general examination was done for all. We saw around 60 patients all had heart disease, the predominant population seen was females. More than 20 had their bypass surgeries or angioplasties done several years ago. The procedures had been done in Mumbai or Pune. Charitable groups coming from time to time helped financing it.
Follow ups of these patients had been very poor and the drugs prescribed several years ago were being continued erratically. High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels and obesity were highly prevalent. The awareness of the nature of their illness was not appropriate and very concerning. Compared to this the level of health awareness in the remotest districts of Kashmir valley and Manipur which we have visited was grossly insufficient in Mumbra. What was striking that for a large population of more than 12 lakhs there is just one hospital from the Govt with very meagre facilities. Very little efforts to improve it were visible.
It was very distressing to see the population settled in a suburb of the financial capital of our democracy in 2021, and the health care facilities are dismal. On the one hand we talk of the digital age, on the other, the population is struggling to have two meals a day. Humanity lives on hope and that is the mission of Umeed foundation, our worthy partner. Good health is our wealth and we need to do everything to achieve it.
Prof Upendra Kaul, Founder Director Gauri Kaul Foundation, Recipient of Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy Award
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.