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Women self-help groups keep Chhattisgarh babies healthy

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Kondagaon/Dhamtari (Chhattisgarh): Born in a Gond tribal family in Kondagaon district in Chhattisgarh, two-year old Priyanka weighed only 5 kg and was suffering from acute malnutrition when she was taken to a Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) two months ago.

Photo credit: hindustantimes.com
Photo credit: hindustantimes.com

Priyanka’s parents are daily wagers in Shampur, a small settlement in the newly carved-out Kondagaon district that is located some 220 km south of state capital Raipur. Such was the condition of the toddler that she was kept under constant watch at the NRC for 15 days.

“She was stunted, weak and underweight so we admitted her to the NRC, where she was provided nutritious food seven to eight times every day. She has, however, come out of the acute malnutrition category, but is still malnourished,” Anganwadi worker Dushan Pandey told this visiting IANS correspondent.

Pandey said that Priyanka’s parents had not paid attention to the child’s health. Now, she is being taken care of at an Anganwadi centre and slowly progressing towards normalcy.

“We now feed her three to five times daily with nutritious food – daal-rice and green vegetables – at the Shampur Anganwadi centre under the Nava Jatan scheme,” Pandey added.

Chhattisgarh’s 26 million population has an over 30 percent tribals and 30.55 percent of its children are malnourished. The state has, however, shown substantial improvement in reducing the number of malnourished children through various steps, including the Nawa Jatan Scheme.

Women’s Self-Help Groups (WSHGs) are formed under the state government’s Nava Jatan programme to address malnourished children.

Dhamtari district collector Bhim Singh said that the percentage of malnourished children has reduced significantly. Through Wajan Tyohar (weight festival) we determine whether the child is malnourished by recording his/her weight.

“In 2012, the percentage of malnourished children in Dhamtari was 43.89 percent, which was reduced to 39.84 percent in 2013 and further reduced to 33.71 percent in 2014. Till June 8, 2015, only 24.59 percent children (including tribal children) were under-nourished in the district,” he said.

“The WSHGs adopt malnourished children in their area and provide them food with the help of Anganwadi centres,” Bhim Singh said.

According to Wajan Tyohar data in Kondagaon district, the level of malnourished children was very high at 51.95 percent in 2012 and reduced to 44.62 percent in 2013. In 2014 malnutrition was 41.84 percent and was marginally reduced to 41.15 till June 8, 2015.

Women and Child Development Department secretary Dinesh Srivastava said: “The children who fall under the category of moderately or severely under-weight are treated under the Nawa Jatan Scheme.”

UNICEF provides technical inputs to the design of the scheme and the capacity building plan.

There had been several challenges in addressing under-nutrition among tribal children including household poverty, gender and social norms, lack of tribal leadership, lack of awareness and family planning.

The anganwadi supervisor of Shampur sector, Belarani Biswas, said: “Most of the tribal people here are in the habit of drinking a lot. In tribal families, women also drink a lot of liquor due to which they are not able pay proper attention to the proper upbringing of their wards, leading to improper eating habits in children.”

According to the 2009 estimates of the erstwhile Planning Commission, India’s 104 million tribals continue to remain among the country’s poorest social groups. Children of tribals remain the most nutritionally deprived.

The child development project officer (CDPO) of Kondagaon district, Amit Singh, said that malnourished girls grow into weak mothers and give birth to underweight babies.

“The WSHGs, along with Suposhan Mitras, reach out to every individual in their respective area and ensure proper feeding to the kids. They also counsel their parents about paying more attention towards improving the eating habits of their children,” Amit Singh said.

(Ashish Mishra, IANS)

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Diseased, Ignored and Suffering Silently : A look into the Health Status of Adivasi Women in Jharkhand

Despite establishment of Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) in tribal areas, quality healthcare is still a dream for India’s tribal population.

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health status of Adivasi women
One of the poorest and most marginalized communities in India, the tribal population continues to fight extreme levels of health deprivation, with women and children being most vulnerable. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 2, 2017 : In his address to the nation on Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about his resolve to build a Divya and Bhavya Bharat by creating opportunities for the youth and women and focusing on inclusive development, with safe housing and food security for the poor.

But has Modi ji forgotten about the depleting health status of the people in the south eastern part of the country, particularly the Adivasi populations?

Stemming from a region where people struggle to avail basic necessities how does Modi ji expect the youth to create jobs, when they are not even literate and healthy in the first place?

The health status of Adivasi women and communities in India is in need of special attention. One of the poorest and most marginalized communities in India, the tribal population continues to fight extreme levels of health deprivation, with women and children being most vulnerable.

Health Status of Adivasi Women

Due to rampant poverty, affording fruits and milk for sustenance is an issue affecting the health status of Adivasi women and communities. Additionally, most of the food is served to the male members, who are the bread-earners. As a result, the women have to survive on paani-bhaat (a dish made of stale or leftover rice and water) and saag made from drumstick leaves.

health status of Adivasi women
Health of a man is given more priority than the health of a woman in India’s tribal communities. Wikimedia

With little to no choice to avail other food items, they fail to meet adequate nutritional requirement for their bodies.

According to Archana Kisku, a General Nursing Midwife (GNM) at the Community Health Centre at Dumka district in Jharkhand, even water intake among Adivasi women is lower than what is required which makes them anemic.

“Most of the health centres at the block level in the state do not have blood banks and therefore these women have to be referred somewhere else,” Archana told ANI.

Multiple studies on the maternal health and health status of Adivasi women show poor nutritional status that continues to worsen, along with high rates or morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, tribal states of India record lower utilization of antenatal and postnatal services which can be attributed to illiteracy, monetary reasons, non-availability of services and even deep rooted cultural beliefs.

If you believe these conditions prevail only in Jharkhand, you are wrong. According to a study published in 2016, it was revealed that 80 per cent of the tribal women in Maharashtra’s Melghat area weighed less than 50 kg. ‘Starvation deaths’ continue to affect the health status of Adivasi women, with cases being reported even in advanced states like Kerala.

Thus, it must be realized that malnutrition and anemia are major problems affecting the health status of Adivasi women, irrespective of the area they reside in. However, it must also be noted that the problem is worse in states like Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh.

Health Problems Faced By Adivasi Population

While malnutrition and anemia continue to be the most reported cases, tribal populations are also faced with several endemic infectious diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and diarrhea, resulting in untimely deaths. According to a report published in The Hindu in 2016, the Sahariya tribe of Madhya Pradesh was reported to have the highest rates of tuberculosis in India.

Reasons for Poor Health Status of Adivasi Women

The main factors responsible for deteriorating health conditions of India’s Adivasi population can be attributed to

  • Questionable living conditions
  • ignorance
  • lack of health education and literacy in general
  • absence or inaccessible healthcare facilities

The Adivasis are traditionally hunter-gatherers and depend upon the rich forests for their daily source of nutrients. Shifting to government schemes, like the Public Distribution System (PDS) takes them away from their natural state of being, replacing their diverse dietary food consumption in a forest to more restricted packages provided by the government.

Additionally, displacement from their traditional living conditions in forests puts them in a difficult situation, as the Adivasi’s struggle to survive on more ‘urban’ lands.

A major transition in livelihood affects the health status of Adivasi women and men, which then takes a toll.

Adivasi Women During Pregnancy and Childbirth

In an interview to ANI, Archana said, “Adivasi women don’t eat nutritious food during pregnancy and also don’t take iron pills on a regular basis because it is a myth amongst them that they will have problems at the time of delivery of the child due to the pill”.

Nearly 50 per cent of tribal women are known to have haemoglobin deficiency.

The pregnant women in Jharkhand’s Dumka district are found to have only 8 grams of, while 11-14 grams is found in a normal human body. This creates obstructions in childbirth.

Adivasi households are known to rear pigs and goats which diminishes their calcium requirement. Additionally, the womenfolk indulge in labor work and fetch water from far off distances which often result in miscarriages.

health status of Adivasi women
An Adivasi woman with her child. Wikimedia

Adivasi Women and Anemia

As per figures from the National Family Health Survey 2015-2016, 71.5 per cent children between the ages of 6 to 59 months in rural areas of Jharkhand were found to be anemic. Furthermore, it was revealed that 67.3 per cent women within the age bracket 15-49 suffered from anemia.

Shockingly, this figure rose to a staggering 85 per cent in case of Adivasi women.

Nutrition, especially of the women, is of least importance in Adivasi communities, which when combined with poverty, lack of awareness and accessibility, create innumerable problems and negatively affect the health status of Adivasi women.

Anemic women naturally cannot be expected to have healthy children, which is why a negatively spiraling trend can be observed in India’s tribal population’s health.

Adivasi Women and Malnutrition

According to Dr Jugal Kishore, Director of Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, malnutrition is a major cause of deaths in India. He observes that one in every three women in India suffer from anemia. The case is worse in Jharkhand where three out of four women are anemic.

As the Adivasi women continue to be anemic, their children are also malnourished.

In a conversation with ANI, State Adviser of the Supreme Court in Jharkhand, Balram revealed the piteous state of pregnant women and nursing mothers who are unable to get adequate nutrition.

He pointed out that these women are unable to receive due benefits of government schemes due to their improper implementation. “Food Safety regulations are being overlooked. In Anganwadi centres there is no proper record maintained of how the health of children suffering from malnutrition is monitored,” he said.

Culture Has A Role To Play Too

Adivasi women continue to depend on midwives to do their deliveries, instead of going to health centres or hospitals. It is also a common belief that consumption of iron or pills would hamper the health status of Adivasi women and their children.

Due to the customs and traditions being passed on over generations, some Adivasi women do not breastfeed their new born after birth, which gravely affects the health of the mother and child alike.

Many such cultural practices also support the proliferation of malnutrition among the Adivasi populations.

State of Public Healthcare Facilities

Despite establishment of Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) in tribal areas, quality healthcare is still a dream for India’s tribal population.

These PHC are often at a dearth of doctors and trained paremedics. The non-availability of essential drugs, and proper infrastructure further worsen the case.

health status of Adivasi women
A frail looking Adivasi woman with her child. Wikimedia

Lack of knowledge and transportation in Adivasi regions is a huge drawback and travelling on foot to the PHC is a restraint for the tribal population which further hinders quality healthcare delivery.

Illiteracy is also a major factor for absence of good healthcare, as Adivasis’ fail to realize the need for healthcare and rights for care-seeking.

Even though the Adivasi community of India is deep rooted in traditions and superstitions, they have relatively accepted modern medicine in the last few years. But access to good health care continues to be a major issue of concern.

What Is The State Doing Regarding The Health Status Of Adivasi Women?

Jharkhand Welfare Minister Dr Lewis Marandi asserted that the state government is constantly making efforts to eradicate malnutrition and anemia, as per ANI report.

For the same, malnutrition centres have been opened in various districts of Jharkhand and the government is additionally providing supplementary nutritious food to children between the age of 6 to 72 months at meager costs.

Dr Kishore believes these supplementary food packages are also being sent for pregnant women, but they are not reaching the intended targets in rural and Adivasi areas.

The Road Ahead

As noted by the United Nations Children Fund, India has the highest tally of malnourished children in India. In this regard, in their efforts of remove malnutrition, the central government plans to introduce schemes guaranteeing increased amount of nutritional supplements to pregnant women and lactating mothers.

The State government has also been instructed to improve and closely monitor the functioning of PHC. Recently, the state government in Chhatisgarh extended livelihood opportunities to Adivasi women by training them to drive e-rickshaws, which are also expected to serve as ambulances in case of emergencies.

Similar initiative must be taken in Jharkhand and other states with Adivasi populations to bring the tribal communities to the mainstream.

However, what is crucial at the moment is for the government to spread awareness about the health of women, which must be given equal attention as the health of men in the Adivasi communities. At the same time, it is important to break the superstitions operational around the health status of Adivasi women.

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Exclusive: Journalist Sanjay Mehta’s Report On Plight of The Tribes in Jharkhand

Journalist Sanjay Mehta, who went and stayed in Saranda village in Jharkhand, witnessed the plight and the worsened living conditions of the tribes people in the area

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Sanjay Mehta
Sanjay Mehta, a journalist from Jharkhand, with children from Saranda region. Sanjay Mehta
  • Sanjay Mehta is a journalist and a student of law hailing from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand
  • The journalist went and stayed with the tribes people of Saranda, thereby witnessing their living conditions
  • Sanjay Mehta’s report reveals the plight of tribes have been completely neglected by the system and the government leading to their shambolic living conditions

July 06, 2017:

Sanjay Mehta, a student of law at Vinoba Bhave University, is also a journalist hailing from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. On 21st June, Mehta decided to visit Saranda forest region to get a closer glimpse of the various tribes that inhabit the place. This was Sanjay Mehta’s own initiative as he considers himself personally bonded with the clan.

Having visited many villages in the region and living among these tribes, Mehta developed a deeper understanding of the poor living conditions of these people who are ignored by both, the system as well as the government.

Sanjay Mehta
A tribe woman with her child. Sanjay Mehta

The Saranda forest, which lies in the West Singhbhum district, is approximately 200Kms away from Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand. Mehta reports that the living condition of the people is inhumane. The tribal clan is desperate for a better life. He continues that the offsprings of these people are victims of malnutrition and their present condition is fretting.

The pregnant women have frightful conditions to encounter every day throughout their pregnancy. Additionally, there are problems with the drinking water due to its high iron ore content. Mehta has discovered these problems since his visit to the region where the entire atmosphere is tragical and disappointing. Ignored by the authorities, it is as if these people are left to work things out on their own. Such situations suffered by the entire ethnic group is ridiculously disturbing.

Also Read: Exclusive: Why Gorkhaland for Gorkhas?

Villages like Meghahatuburu, Kotgarh, Gua, Tatiba, Lokasi, among many others, are struggling for basic necessities of life. The doctors in the hospitals are under-staffed, schools lack students who suffer from malnutrition while the entire community have only the nature for survival (which isn’t enough in today’s world). Having failed completely, the questions should be aimed towards the Govt.

Sanjay Mehta
The children of families in Saranda, Jharkhand suffer from malnutrition and malaria. Sanjay Mehta

Sanjay Mehta also alleges that the Feb 2017 report prepared by UNICEF and the Central Govt has falsely estimated that only 20% of the kids in the Saranda region suffer from malnutrition. Having lived there for 15 days now, the journalist estimates a much higher statistic than 20%. He reports that almost every kid is under-nutrition and often even minor diseases are life threatening. These deaths go unnoticed and often ignored.

The Govt. facilities are non-existent. The water problem combined with extreme unemployment implies just how badly the Govt has been performing. Even basic electricity is a rare thing in some villages. In some areas, the roads are constructed badly, and in others, you can only see crooked paths.

The region is a mining paradise making it complicated for development policies to be implemented here. Most of the land is leased out to SAIL, a public sector company, and thus the amount of money received from the centre for development is often sent back. SAIL has its own CSR initiative and therefore, do not provide an approval certificate. Although the officers have been urged time and again to look into the matter, there still has been no progress.

In his report, Sanjay Mehta has also documented the experiences of the villagers. Many people also told that the poor quality of water has infected their feet and nails. The women of Noamundi grieved that they fry insects as their meal. It is, in fact, an essential nutrition in their diet at this time of the season.

Sanjay Mehta
The drinking water has a high content of Iron ores making it a health issue. Sanjay Mehta

One villager has expressed his frustration aimed at the government. He said that the kids of the village are dying of malnutrition and malaria. The government is paying no attention to it.

Another man from a village called Kiriburu has declared the government’s policies as a complete failure. The people of the village have not reaped any benefits that the government had promised.

Juda Bodra, hailing from the Gua village, stated “I am unemployed and have no benefits from the state. This is very difficult for us”

Sanjay Mehta
Badapasia women selling insects which are an essential part of the daily meal of this tribe. Sanjay Mehta

Badapasia village resident Ghanshyam Bobonge said that the conditions for tribe’s people are miserable. “We are living the lives’ of the lowest class. No officials come and address our griefs”

When the journalist highlighted this issue in a Facebook post, it was reported and henceforth removed. The Journalist also concludes that gradually the villagers are getting more and more angry towards the establishment, which is unhealthy for any political system. Sanjay Mehta can be followed on Twitter @JournalistMehta

By Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Indian origin Charitable Organization Tulsi Chanrai Foundation (TCF) gives healthcare to 3 Million Nigerians

TCF achieved the feat in the past two decades through its three key programmes: Mission for Vision, Mission for Primary Health and Mission for Water

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An Indian origin charitable organization, Tulsi Chanrai Foundation (TCF), has provided public healthcare to over three million disadvantaged children and adults in Nigeria. VOA
  • TCF, which started operations in 1994, is the charity wing of the Chanrai family which set up the first Indian company in Nigeria in 1923
  • The Nigerian government has accorded TCF the status of an International NGO
  • Over 1.5 million mothers and children have been provided access to basic healthcare services by this organization 

Accra (Ghana) June 6, 2017: An Indian-origin charitable organization, Tulsi Chanrai Foundation (TCF), has provided public healthcare to over three million disadvantaged children and adults in Nigeria.

TCF achieved the feat in the past two decades through its three key programmes: Mission for Vision, Mission for Primary Health and Mission for Water.

TCF, which started operations in 1994, is the charity wing of the Chanrai family which set up the first Indian company in Nigeria in 1923. The company has since become one of the most successful and respected business houses in the country.

ALSO WATCH:

The TCF report for 2015-16 said the Chanrai family has businesses in the areas of trade, manufacturing, agriculture and finance and currently employs about 30,000 people in Nigeria. It is one of the largest employer of local staff among the private sector in Nigeria.

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The Nigerian government has accorded TCF the status of an International NGO.

Since its inception, the TCF report said, more than 100,000 eye surgeries had been performed in Nigeria, restoring vision to the poor.

Also, over 1.5 million mothers and children have been provided access to basic healthcare services.

In the same period, 4,384 hand pumps and 85 solar and electric bore holes have been rehabilitated to provide potable water to 1.95 million people.

“When Nigeria is battling internally with acute insurgency and economic recession for a protracted period, TCF remain committed to extending its services unabated and assist the needy across the country,” the report said.

In 2015-16, the TCF said, it undertook several other projects including setting up the G.K. Chanrai Memorial Hospital in Zaria Kaduna.

From April 15, 2015, to March 16 last year, a total of 195,317 people were treated and 83,050 infants immunized.

The report said its Mission for Vision program aimed to reduce avoidable blindness, predominantly cataract, among the rural poor of Nigeria by providing high-quality ophthalmic surgeries for free.

“As a result, a large number of underprivileged people in and around Katsina, Kebbi and Cross River states have been able to avail of high-quality eye treatment for cataract and glaucoma at no cost.” (IANS)