Melghat- Malnutrition And Many Maladies
The verdant forested hills hide a forlorn story. They are home to some of the most isolated people in the country, including the Korku Adivasis. This region, comprising Chikhaldhara and Dharni talukas, has seen the death of 400 to 500 children below six years of age, every year consistently in spite of being in the news.
Accompanied by the Hon Minister of State for Health, Officers from the Local Administration, Medical Experts, NGOs and a team form Yashwantrao Chavan Pratishthan, Mumbai, we visited Melghat on 04-11-2011 to study the reasons for this dismal statistic of 2005.
During our visit to these small hamlets scattered across hundreds of miles, the same recurring stories came to be narrated:
- A dismal lack of infrastructure is the common thread running through this myriad of maladies. Due to lack of proper and motorable roads and very poor frequency in fact near absence, of public transport, it becomes difficult for these residents to commute and communicate regarding the daily and basic necessities of life. It is not possible for parents to take the sick children to a Public Health Center, or for a pregnant woman in labour with complications to get a specialized medical unit with facilities in time.
- We saw a plea for better Education at pre primary and primary levels by strengthening the ‘Anganwadis’ and Primary school in close vicinity of the villages
- Immediate appointment of doctors for the posts those are vacant for long. They need appropriate gynecologists/obstetricians and pediatricians. A large number of maternal deaths occur due to lack of Trained Obstetricians. Similarly, Neonatal, Infant and Under-Five deaths related to complications from malnutrition need to be prevented by having regular trained Pediatricians. Changes in the post graduate admission procedures, non application of Sixth pay Commission recommendations and pathetic basic living facilities have forced a large number of doctors to shun this region.
- There was a demand to have effective implementation of the ‘EMPLYMENT GUARANTEE SCHEME (ROJGAR HAMI YOJANA)’ in the region, and continuation of the ‘NREGA’ – National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, to maintain the economic well-being of the villagers.