Mahesh Nath Singh
International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai-400088
Health and productivity of humans is closely linked with life style, decision-making and substance used (chewing pan, cigarettes and alcohol). Therefore, explorations in the area of how these three factors linked and influence each other in urban ghettos is immensely important for managing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Four hundred twenty seven unmarried youths living in Mumbai slums were interviewed on these issues.
This paper is an attempt to seek the answer of question- (1) whether education has any positive impact on decision-making in several household matters, (2) whether pocket money has any association with consumption of substances (chewing pan, cigarettes and alcohol).In addition to the two questions, it also attempts to see the level of knowledge regarding Reproductive Tract Infections (RTI)/ Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).
This study reveals that two-thirds of youths have been involved in decision-making towards mobility, health seeking, purchase of important item and financial matters. Almost 51 percent youths in Mumbai slums use at least one of the substance among chewing pan, cigarettes and alcohol. The knowledge about RTI/STI and HIV/AIDS among youths is 24 per cent and 91 per cent respectively. Television, friends and health personal are the main sources of information. Around 18 percent people know about HIV/AIDS counseling centre too. Education among them is positively associated with decision-making in the family. Pocket money has positive association with substance use. Other things which affect substance use are by level of education, wealth, occupation, religion and caste. Knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS is affected by the similar set of backgrounds.
This study is a part of PhD research work and suggests that majority of youths are not aware about health impact of substance use as well as RTI/STI, and thus community/local authorities are required to set up informal educational programmes to enhance their knowledge regarding the aforementioned diseases and substance usage.