Deadly diseases haunt tribals as health officials avoid remote colonies

Deadly diseases haunt tribals as health officials avoid remote colonies

Nilambur: Tribal colonies in the forests here are in the grip various diseases with the Health Department personnel no longer carrying out their periodic visits. As a result, deadly diseases, including black fever, are spreading among the tribal population.

The worst affected are the Chola Naicken tribals in Karulayi forest. A very ancient tribe that leads a bare existence, their population numbers only around 200. The tribe lives in isolated hamlets in the hills and many members suffer from health conditions such as anaemia.

Recently, a one-and-a-half-year old girl belonging to Kuppamala hamlet had succumbed to black fever at Kozhikode Medical College Hospital. Two months ago, Odukkan (22) of Manjakallanpuzha hamlet had died. The cause of the death is yet to be ascertained. It was reported that Odukkan’s brother Veeran (32) too is bedridden for the last three weeks.

Manjakallanpuzha is 35 km from Karulayi. Reaching the place involves a 15-km trek by foot from Manjeeri. No health worker has reached the hamlet so far.

The health check-ups of Chola Naickers are conducted at Manjeri. In emergency situations, Health Department staff visit the tribal hamlets. The activities are coordinated by the Government Tribal Mobile Dispensary at Nilambur which has to cover 28 tribal colonies, including Nedumkayam, Mundakkadavu and Manjeeri hamlets in Karulayi forest; Punjakkolli, Alakkal and Uchakkulam in Vazhikadavu forest; Vettilakkolli, Ambumala and Palakkayam in Chaliyar and Kumbalappara, Vaniyampuzha, Chembra and Iruttikuthi hamlets in Pothukallu.

Till a year ago, Health officials had conducted regular monthly visits to all the 28 colonies. But now no such activities are carried out, complain the tribal people.

On most occasions, the medical team attached to the mobile dispensary starts from the district hospital only by 10.30 am. So, the team hardly finds time to reach the far-off tribal hamlets and confine their check-ups to colonies nearby.

Another mobile dispensary is operated by Scheduled Tribe Development Department for the benefit of tribals living deep inside the forest. But the services of this dispensary also are not efficient, said IRDP promoters.

Moreover, several complaints have been raised regarding the functioning of the Karulayi primary health centre, especially regarding the care offered to residents of tribal colonies.