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Health of Muslims in Maharashtra

This project is an attempt to understand the health status of Muslims in Maharashtra, through review of existing studies and analysis of secondary data sources. It seeks to understand the health status of Muslims in terms of morbidity reported by them, utilization of health facilities and cost of health care. Muslims comprise about 10% of Maharashtra’s population and approximately 70% of them reside in urban areas. Within these urban areas, the feeling of extreme insecurity due to growing communalism has resulted in the exodus of Muslims from mixed communities into homogenous ghettoes. The studies conducted by the minorities commission show that living conditions in the ghettoes are abominable, leading to several communicable diseases. The areas seem to be neglected by the municipal corporations - access to clean drinking water and sanitation is extremely poor. There is a dearth of public health facilities in some ghettoes such as Mumbra and Bhiwandi. Where available, the quality of public health facilities is poor and so people prefer to access private health care. However, as the population is largely economically deprived, they cannot afford to access private health care and there is no option but to utilize poor quality public facilities. On the whole in Maharashtra, Muslims fare better than other groups in terms of child mortality rates, but this is because they are largely concentrated in urban areas. Within urban areas, however, they do not fare as well and the IMR is actually higher than other groups. Similarly, most deliveries take place in institutions because of the urban location, but it is important to note that home deliveries among Muslims do occur even in urban areas. The paper also discusses the behaviour of health professionals in public health facilities that reflect communal stereotypes and biases.

It is hoped that the findings of this paper will provide direction to the Government of Maharashtra’s efforts in addressing the needs of this minority population. The paper also provides direction for more research on the issue of religious discrimination and its impact on health.

Research Team: Sana Contractor, Tejal Barai-Jaitley

Supported by: Maharashtra State Minority Commission