Health Crisis for India's Brick Kiln Workers

The toxic nature of kilns and lack of sanitation creates many health risks including worm infestations and skin infections.

Six-year-old Sachin works long hours in India's brick industry and it is making him sick. He is one of many children who spend their youth toiling long hours each day making bricks by hand. Instead of going to school, Sachin works in thigh-deep mounds of water, mud, clay, straw, ash and coal dust kneading the brick mixture with his tiny hands and feet. Exposure to contaminated water and mud causes many serious illness, severe worm infestations and skin infections. 

To help Sachin, and hundreds of children like him, AmeriCares India Foundation partners with Prem Seva Mahila Mandal (PSSM) - a local organization providing basic education, guidance and medical aid to women and children in poor rural villages just a few hours outside Mumbai, India's largest city. At the joint PSSM clinic for Sachin's village, over 200 patients were registered, examined and given necessary medications, counseling and referrals. AmeriCares India Foundation is working with our local partners and the authorities to address child labor issues.

Sachin was brought to an AmeriCares India Foundation mobile health clinic with a large group of children from the kiln. His friends were all about five to nine years old, covered with mud - patiently waiting to be seen by AmeriCares doctors and healthcare workers.

Sachin was suffering from an ear infection, intestinal parasites and malnutrition. His belly was so bloated due to a worm infestation that he looked as if he had swallowed a basketball. Sachin's ear infection had been recurrent for over a year, putting him at risk for permanent hearing loss.

Dr. Jabeen Basade, AmeriCares program manager, treated Sachin. "Thankfully, his infection and infestation could be treated with the donated medicines we travel with when we hold mobile clinics," said Dr. Basade. "We were also able to give him a protein supplement to help address malnutrition."

AmeriCares India Foundation will return to Sachin's village regularly to provide follow up medical care and patient counseling.