Introduction Metropolitan cities in India,producing half a kilogram of waste per household, are virtual garbage producing factories. Thus rag-picking has emerged as an alternative occupation adopted by underprivileged communities. Rag-pickers randomly sort and collect garbage and sell to scrap-dealers, gaining money in return based on the weight and type of garbage. Risk in the occupation outweighs the economic benefits. The multi-factorial implication in the sustenance of this occupation in urban underprivileged communities provokes epidemiologists to examine determinants influencing this occupation
Aims and objectives
To assess the socio demographic and morbidity profile of women rag-pickers
To assess socio-epidemiological factors correlated with the occupational pattern of rag- pickers
Methodology A cross sectional study covering 1500 women rag-pickers with the sampling frame of 10% study subjects. One to One interview with predetermined questionnaire followed by focus group discussion with stake holders and study subjects was done.
Result 1) Emergence of adverse social determinants namely misery, disease, hunger,lack of dignity and inhuman treatment was found 2) Hand to mouth survival instincts compromising basic human needs of clothing, shelter and food 3) Predominance of adverse cultural influences hampering the quality of life 4) Vicious cycle of social determinants and inevitable health risks emerged 5) Social exclusion/caste system were observed as root cause.
Conclusion 1) Rag-picking community and occupation be organised, registered and recognised under the Factory Act and ESI Act 2) Work safety measures should be promoted and provided 3) Local municipal governance may identify their role and develop work safety protocol 4) Alternative skills development training be given for empowering rag-picker community 5) Socio-political intervention and policy implementation for elimination of caste system 6) Regulation of trade business related to sale of garbage.
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