“Facilitate integration of tribal medical system and modern medicine”: Undernutrition and childhood morbidities due to inaction

Indian J Med Res. 2005 Jul ;122 (1):43-7 16106089  Cit:8

Undernutrition & childhood morbidities among tribal preschool children.

[My paper] V G Rao, Rajeev Yadav, C K Dolla, Surendra Kumar, M K Bhondeley, Mahendra UkeyRegional Medical Research Centre for Tribals (ICMR), Jabalpur, India. drvgrao@rediffmail.com


Undernutrition and various morbidities go hand in hand, particularly in children. Nutritional status is a sensitive indicator of community health and nutrition. The present study is an attempt to assess the nutritional status of pre-school children of Gond tribal community in Madhya Pradesh.


The study was a community-based, cross- sectional survey carried out in tribal preschool children. Anthropometric measurements were taken. Various indices of nutritional status were expressed in standard deviation units (z scores) from the reference median. The children were examined for nutritional deficiencies and other morbidities. The haemoglobin concentration was measured and the children were classified into various grades of nutritional anaemias. Data on socio-cultural and hygienic practices were also collected. RESULTS: More than 60 per cent children were underweight. Micronutrient deficiency disorders such as anaemia and vitamin A deficiency were common among them. Unhygienic personal habits and adverse cultural practices relating to child rearing, breast-feeding and weaning were also prevalent among them.


The findings of the present study revealed the widespread prevalence of undernutrition among pre-school tribal children and highlight a need for an integrated approach towards improving the child health as well as nutritional status in this area.

Source: Papers: tribal
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School in Odisha taking Corona (covid-19) precautions © Unicef India >>

Even as the government is going full steam in containing Covid-19 which has claimed over 43,000 across the country, apathy and inaction on the recommendations of an expert committee have killed over 10 lakh tribals in India since August 2018.

The committee led by NGO Search’s founder Dr Abhay Bang, whose studies have shaped health care policies, had said health status and care in tribal areas were poorest in its report submitted on August 9, 2018.

The biggest causes of death include preventable illnesses such as malaria, malnutrition, childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea, neonatal morbidities, tuberculosis, snake bites, alcoholism, suicides and non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, stroke and cancer, which are rising rapidly among tribal people.

Dr Bang warned recently, the arrival of Covid-19 may play havoc because tribal people might be vulnerable due to lack of health care. […]

30-80% doctor posts vacant, absenteeism common, morale low
Low input, low quality, low output and low outcome system
Record keeping and data on tribal health absent
Indices like infant mortality rate and life expectancy not calculated for tribals
Nobody in Centre or states care for these numbers
Indifference to tribal health, not counted, not published, not monitored or evaluated

Launch Tribal Health Action Plan to raise tribal health to state levels by 2027
8.6% of the health budget be spent on tribal health
Tribal Health Council, Tribal Health Directorate and Tribal Health Research Cell at national and state levels
Shift primary health care delivery system towards tribal communities
Facilitate integration of tribal medical system and modern medicine and public health systems
Generate knowledge and data on aspects of tribal health through surveys, epidemiological research, maternal and child death audits and create Tribal Health Index

Source: Times of India (Nagpur), 10 August 2020
URL: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/govt-inaction-killed-10-lakh-tribals-of-treatable-diseases-malnutrition-since-aug-2018/articleshow/77453069.cms
Date visited: 26 July 2021

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“It was assumed that tribal people have same health problems, similar needs and hence the uniform national pattern of rural health care would be applicable to them as well, albeit with some alteration in population: provider ratio. The different terrain and environment in which they live, different social systems, different culture and hence different health care needs were not addressed.” –Abhay Bang (Report of the Expert Committee on Tribal Health).” – Abhay Bang, Chairman, Expert Committee on Tribal health | Learn more >>

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