Swami Vivekananda Medical Mission

Malnutrition casts deadly shadow over Attappadi

Malnutrition deaths have continued to haunt the tribal hamlets of Attappadi if the figures disclosed in a survey are any indication.

As many as 483 tribals at Agali were suffering from malnutrition and anaemia, says a fact-finding team led by junior health nurses under the Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP). In the last four months since December 2012, 16 deaths were reported including a woman and 15 children.

The survey team collected the details covering 20,623 tribals living in 6,619 houses at Agali out of a population of 30,000 tribals in Attappadi, from April 10.

The survey was conducted as part of the proposed medical camp to be organised by the ITDP on April 20 at the Kottathara Tribal Speciality Hospital in which Tribal Director Hari Kishore and Director of Health Services are participating.

“This is the first time that such a survey is being conducted in Attappadi. One of the startling disclosures was that all those suffering from malnutrition and anaemia were adolescent girls, children below 5 years, lactating mothers and pregnant women,” said ITDP project officer P V Radhakrishnan.

Selvan, 26, and wife Veeramma both brick kiln labourers at Thekke Kadamabara told ‘Express’ that after battling for life in hospital for 20 days, their child Kaliamma died of malnutrition.

In the last 16 months malnutrition and anaemia have claimed the lives of around 30 children here.

“Most of the deaths were reported from isolated tribal pockets. In most cases the haemoglobin level in the blood was below 10 while actually it should be above 14 for boys and above 13 for girls.

Lack of hygiene and malnutrition are said to be the main causes. The tribals mostly use river water infested with hook worms. Most of them suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency, and since they have stopped cultivating ragi the daily intake of nutritional content has received a setback, said the Chief Medical officer of the Vivekananda Medical Mission V Narayanan.