A healthy revolution in Attapadi tribal's life

PALAKKAD: The rare initiative by a District Collector to contain the raging sickle cell disease among tribals has produced wonderful results.

Buoyed by the success of the tribal health scheme, christened `Giriswasthya', in the tribals belts of Attapadi in Palakkad district, the Government has decided to extend the scheme to other districts of the State as well.

Two years ago when the tribals of Attapadi were affected by sickle cell anaemia and starvation, the Palakkad District Administration led by District Collector Dr K Ellangovan, making use of his medical background, decided to conduct a sample nutritional survey in the 171 hamlets of Attapadi to assess the general health conditions of the tribals and the causes of malnutrition.

The survey was conducted by a team comprising three medical officers, seven para-medical officers and two helpers. The survey revealed that the tribals were grossly anaemic in 33 `oorus,' deaths were frequent, the causes being congested cardiac failure, renal failure and exhaustion.

The findings were converted into a draft plan and submitted to the State Government which saw the birth of the Giriswasthya project.

The Government sanctioned the project, costing Rs 28 lakh. One of the main objectives of the scheme was to educate and train tribal health volunteers. The volunteers were given a five-week training. A total of 39 Giriswasthya volunteers were trained under the scheme and they were called peer educators. Each educator was given a monthly allowance of Rs 600. They underwent training at the district hospital, taluk hospital and the Medical College, Kozhikode.

The volunteers go to the hamlets, raise the level of personal hygiene and immunisation, provide proper ante-natal check-up and so on.The survey, undertaken during September 1999 to 2000 August, showed a marked difference. The number of tribal delivery cases in hospitals, between September 1998 and August 1999, was 208 while that of non-tribals was 279. But between September 1999 to 2000 August, the tribal deliveries in all the hospitals of Attapadi Block increased to 312 while that of non-tribals decreased to 266 .

The women who registered for ante-natal check up, increased to 2,254 in August 2000 compared to 2,081 during the period ended August 1999 and the pulse polio rate increased by 103 per cent.

The number of condoms distributed from September 1998 to August 1999 was only 40,000 while the Giriswastya volunteers distributed 70,000 condoms from September 1999 to August 2000.

During this period, the volunteers conducted 1,256 health awareness camps, 28 anti-drug camps, staged 11 street dramas and 60 hamlet-based medical camps. Another 33 medical camps were held at the panchayat level.

Thus, a project implemented by the tribal volunteers for the tribal population, has shown that even areas like health could be tackled, provided a concerted bid was made at the grass-roots level.

HEALTH INSURANCE SCHEME: A total pay out of Rs 3 lakh has been effected under the novel health insurance scheme, being implemented by the district administration in association with United India Assurance, for the tribals of Attapadi during the past one year under the Giriswasthya project.

The success of the scheme has prompted the Government to devise plans to replicate it in other parts of the State. The nominal premium for this scheme will be borne by the district administration.

The tribals of Attapadi have been insured against six major diseases_ snake-bite, death due to accidents, death due to child birth complications, blood transfusion and mortal diseases.

Recently, a payment of Rs 40,000 was made to the K G Hospital, Coimbatore, by the insurance authorities under the scheme towards the medical expenses incurred by a tribal mother for a complicated delivery case, saving the life of both mother and child.

The private hospitals of Coimbatore are unaffordable even to the salaried class. Now the tribals of Attapadi receive quality medical attention, thanks to the success of the innovative health schemes.


Foodgrain to tribal hostels

SHILLONG, June 5: The Government of India has decided to provided foodgrains to the inmates in the tribal hostels at 15 kg per head per month at BPL rates, stated a MIPR release. This facility will also be available to inmates at tribal hostels being run by non-governmental organizations sponsored by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and State Governments. However, with regard to other welfare activities, such as vocational training centres, hospital, mobile dispensaries etc, the foodgrains would be made available to the welfare institutions at 5 kg per head per month. Interested institutions and organizations wanting to this facility may submit their application to the office of the Deputy Commissioner (Supply), East Khasi Hills, with the following details: organization and the number of inmates, scheduled castes, schedule tribes and others. Application in this regard should reach the office of the Deputy Commissioner (Supply), East Khasi Hills, Shillong on or before June 20.

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Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: June 7, 2001
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