OPINION: Taking healthcare to India’s remote tribes
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
The right to good healthcare must be addressed using modern technology, innovative approaches and by involving tribals in developing solutions for their problems
In his address to the nation on Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about inclusive development, with food security, safe housing and sanitation being the rights of every citizen. Health is intimately linked to these essentials of living. The health status of India’s tribal communities is in need of special attention. Being among the poorest and most marginalised groups in India, tribals experience extreme levels of health deprivation. The tribal community lags behind the national average on several vital public health indicators, with women and children being the most vulnerable.
Several studies on maternal health show poorer nutritional status, higher levels of morbidity and mortality, and lower utilisation of antenatal and postnatal services among tribals. Under-five mortality rates among rural tribal children remain startlingly high, at 95 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006 compared with 70 among all children. A recent study in Melghat district of Maharashtra revealed that 80 per cent of tribal women weighed under 50 kg and 74 per cent of under-five children were malnourished. “Starvation deaths” continue to be reported from tribal areas, including from advanced States like Kerala.
- Health Care