Ninety five per cent of Girijans in the Agency area survive for only 50 to 55 years and only five per cent are age above 55 years; mortality rate in the 0-5 years age group is 14.23 per cent; 26.51 per cent in 46-55 years age group and 15.27 per cent in 56-65 years age group in Paderu mandal — one of the sample mandals; height-weight and age-weight ratios are much less than their plain counterparts; almost all Girijans are anaemic and haemoglobin percentage is alarmingly low at six per cent in pregnant women.
The Girijans are suffering with P. falciparum malaria (cerebral malaria), fevers, TB, diarrhoea and hepatitis while anthrax is noticed in some mandals frequently. Goitre is noticed even in men in a good number while bone deformities are prevalent due to higher presence of alumina in water due to bauxite deposits. These are some of the important findings made by a research scholar of Department of Zoology of Andhra University P. Srinivas while working for his thesis-nutritional and environmental impact studies on health and longevity of tribal population of Paderu Division.
Bone deformities are noticed in all age groups said Dr. Srinivas at a press conference here on Wednesday and explained an experiment he made by providing only water collected from a well in Pedabayalu mandal to chicken he raised.
Egg shell did not form and even if formed it was of low serum calcium content.
The number of eggs the chicken had laid in a month was as much as six to ten, when a chicken usually lays one egg a day.
Dr. Srinivas did his study in Paderu, Hukumpeta, Pedabayalu and Munchingput mandals between 2007-10. He also found heavy presence of medals, particularly aluminium and strontium in the blood samples he collected from humans.
Unhygienic surroundings, food habits like eating stored meat or meat collected from dead animals, eating raw jackfruit and powder made of mango seed, changing food habits-eating more rice, reduction in intake of leafy vegetables, eating more tuberous vegetables, etc. were some of the reasons for the ill health of Girijans, he felt.
He was also of the opinion that the Girijans were eating jackfruit, etc. not because it was a tradition but due to lack of proper food due to poverty. The podu cultivation is being done mostly for commercial crops. The Girijans who were collecting forest products and hunting animals for their consumption were denied the same due to deforestation.
Dr. Srinivas felt that the government must move its machinery and provide facilities to the Girijans at their villages and improve connectivity. Senior professors of the university K. Ravi (politics), M. Prasada Rao (economics) and Nirmala (law) were also present.