Child Survival in India: IRP’s New Media Reporting Trip

India 2013

February 27, 2013

The International Reporting Project and nine innovative journalists and new media experts from around the world traveled to India for an intensive ten-day trip to explore issues of child survival.

The journalists traveled across India and met with a wide range of experts, including P. Sainath, on topics ranging from vaccines, child malnutrition, tuberculosis, polio, HIV/AIDS, maternal health, access to clean water and hygiene, privatization of health care and its affect on child survival, to the impact of agricultural and rural development on child survival.

The journalists produced many stories and blog posts from the trip.

Award-winning multimedia journalist Hagit Bachrach began the trip by detailing IRP’s activities in its first days in Mumbai, as journalists met with the Niramaya Health Foundation, experts on child survival, and Operation ASHA, a nonprofit fighting tuberculosis that has implemented an innovative TB-tracking device. She also spent time examining the gender dynamics that influence women's health and child survival. The trip reinforced the importance of international reporting for Hagit: "This field reporting opportunity provided unparalleled exposure to issues that I normally only have vicarious access to. This access is particularly crucial for multimedia projects, which weave in the sights and sounds that bring a story to life."

Jose Miguel Calatayud also began by documenting his arrival in Mumbai with Storify posts that illustrate the challenges India faces in child survival, reproductive health and more. Jose was struck by Dr. Armida Fernandes’ opening remarks to the group, in which she stressed the negative impact corruption has on maternal and child health. The group later met with P. Sainath, who provided a framework for the severity of malnutrition in India. “Malnutrition rates among children in India [are] double than that of Sub-Saharan Africa,” Sainath told the group.

For Jennifer Uloma Igwe, a reporter with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the monetary incentives offered to Indian women who deliver their babies in hospitals was striking. She went on to report on Operation ASHA’s work in the Mumbai slum of Bhiwandi, where health personnel closely monitor TB patients’ care. She also wrote about the emergence of drug-resistant strains of TB and made comparisons between poverty in India and Nigeria, her home country.

Before his first trip to India, founder Leon Kaye reported on Unilver’s hand washing campaign in India that branded Indian flatbread with messages encouraging hand washing. After arriving in India, Leon marveled at the Niramaya Health Foundation’s tenacity in its work in Deonar, a Mumbai suburb that Leon describes as “arguably India’s oldest and largest landfill.” And meeting with Operation ASHA, Leon discovered that one of the NGO’s partners is Microsoft Research. Continuing with his focus on the use of technology in improving health and corporate social responsibility, Leon reported on the role of corporate social responsibility programs and business' use of technology to purify water and deliver health care. Another innovation Leon reported on was Child Survival India’s use of baby showers in New Delhi as opportunities to educate women about prenatal heath and childhood nutrition. After meeting with so many experts and facing the challenges of health care in India, Leon took solace in the joy of India’s children. Amidst IRP’s travels across the country, Leon also had a chance to reflect on Mumbai’s rail system.

Joanne Manaster, a science writer and cell and molecular biology lecturer at the University of Illinois, also focused on the impact of science and engineering in improving child health. Joanne relished in Indians’ shared love of science, which is marked each February with a National Science Day.

American video correspondent Lindsey Mastis prepped for the trip with new gear and outlined the problems of child survival in India before seting out to search for answers. She started by reporting on IRP's visits to Mumbai’s slums. There, Mastis noted the importance of working with the community in order to see results: “The way to help solve the problem of child and maternal mortality has to be done with the help from people within these communities.” Like Jennifer Uloma Igwe, Lindsey also noted the differences and similarities between TB treatment in India and her hometown of Los Angeles. She also reported on UK Prime Minister Cameron’s visit to India.

Anindita Sengupta, a writer, journalist and poet in Mumbai and founder-editor of Ultra Violet, is currently an IRP New Media Fellow reporting on reproductive health, and Anindita was able to join the journalists in India as well. Anindita found IRP's visit to Drs. Abhay and Rani Bang's rural medical center to be inspirational. She also accompanied IRP in visiting a counseling center for domestic violence, where she met a victim of domestic violence who shared her story in a three-part series. Continuing with her focus on women, reporting on maternal health and the link between gender discrimination and malnourishment. Throughout the trip, Anindita captured striking images of a Mumbai’s dump and a community health worker. 

More photos of the trip can be found here and here.

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