New Delhi: History shows that the Chenchu tribals are the first dwellers of the Andhra region even before the Dravidians. Over the years, their traditional relationship with their forests in the Amrabad Tiger Reserve has been altered in a serious and perhaps irreversible way. Apollo Foundation and the forest authorities have been working together for three years on initiatives that can help improve healthcare in the region.
With Total Health camp, the aim is to ensure healthcare reaches the last mile and they have reached the interiors of the Amrabad Tiger Camp to the tribals.
Geographical isolation, primitive agriculture practices, socio-cultural taboos, and poor health-seeking behavior have led to many health challenges for the Chenchu tribe. This community suffers from severe malnutrition, osteoporosis, gastritis, skin infections and anaemia.
Talking to NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India, about the health conditions of the people of the Chenchu tribe, Dr M. Rajashekhar, Apollo Foundation, Total Health said,
What we see here is people suffering from waterborne diseases and scabies due to shortage of water and also, unclean water. Here people are also anaemic.
To ensure no one is left behind, Apollo Foundation’s Total Heath programme is trying to bridge the gap with regular health camps in the forest as well as Satellite Clinics in the villages outside the forest reserve.
Nagaama was suffering from anaemia. She was always tired but didn’t know why, simply because she had never visited a doctor. The camp conducted a battery of tests where her anaemia was detected. Now she is being treated with simple iron capsules and feels much better.
Nagaama, a beneficiary of Total Health in Bhaurapur Penta says,
I used to get a fever because I was anaemic. Then the madam from Apollo Hospital sent a doctor who prescribed medicines for us. The fever has reduced because I took those medicines. Now I am healthy and well.
Total Health holds regular sessions on hygiene awareness in the forests. The programme has set up a Geriatric Nutrition Clinic where senior citizens are given hot and nutritious midday meals, free of cost. Another important aspect is the provision of menstrual hygiene education and awareness, along with the distribution of reusable sanitary napkins.
Talking about the initiative, Upasana Kamineni Konidela, Vice Chairperson, CSR, Apollo Hospitals said,
It is very important to keep tribal welfare and tribal life and respect them as much because they form a huge part of our society. Even with respect to hygiene and menstruation, overall health has improved for women. Now they take care of their own health and their families as well. When we have our camps in different parts of the forest they are enthusiastic, this shows they are bothered about their health. The government has done a lot but there are also a lot of schemes these people don’t know about. With our Arrjava warriors, we are empowering the ASHA workers and Anganwadi workers with education on healthcare, hygiene and preserving the planet.
According to McKinsey’s impact assessment of the Total Health programme in Amrabad, there has been 100 per cent improvement in accessibility for tribals inside core forest areas through health camps. Synchronised efforts from key stakeholders working on the ground can help India move towards the ultimate aim – Lakshya Sampoorn Swasthya Ka.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.