After a gap of four days another child dies in Attappady tribal belt taking the total number of death of children of tribal people to 38 during the last sixteen months. (22 since this year January).

The two and a half year old Shyam, son of Krishnan and Sunitha of Paloor tribal hamlet of Pudur Grama Panchayat of Attappady died at Kozhikode Medical College.

He was in a serious condition with T.B and anaemia for the last 20 days. The child was first admitted in a private hospital at Attappady.

He was then shifted to Kottathara Tribal Specialty Hospital. Ten days back he was taken to Kozhikode Medical College where he was admitted in the ICU. He breathed his last on Friday morning.

The family members of Krishnan and Sunitha in Attappady said that both the mother and the child are anaemic.

This was their first child and the delivery was normal then, the family members said.

On May 13 the infant boy of Kavitha and Vinodkumar of Pattimalam tribal hamlet in Agali Grama Panchayat died of malnutrition. In this case too the mother was anaemic and it was her second delivery.

Meanwhile in the health survey conducted in Attappady recently identified 68 cases of anaemia and 57 cases malnutrition among children but no steps were taken by the Health Department to provide special medical care to them, said activists of ‘Thampu’, a voluntary organization working among the tribal people.

They have also questioned the alleged attempts by the District Medical Officer (DMO) to portray that the deaths of tribal infants are not due to malnutrition.

The President of ‘Thampu’ Rajendra Prasad and Convenor K.A. Ramu in a statement here on Friday said that the Health Department which had utterly failed to provide medical help to the tribal people of Attappady over the years are trying to find some excuses for their lapses.

The DMO in a press report the other day went to the extent of insulting the tribal womanhood when he stated that the drinking habit of some tribal women resulted in the premature delivery and deaths.

The ‘Thampu’ activists have challenged the DMO to prove that any of the young mothers who had lost their infants were drunk. They have demanded the Government to take action against the DMO for his ‘uncivilized and cruel’ statement coming from a top official of the Government.

They pointed out that the medical bulletin brought out by the Health Department itself said that almost all infants who had died soon after birth were underweight.

The weight was between 650 to 1,600 grams, much below the standard weight prescribed for newborn by World Health Organisation.

In the case of a couple of children which had normal weight their mothers were anaemic. In fact more than 90 per cent of the mothers who lost their children were anaemic, some of them affected with the genetic disorder of sickle cell anaemia, the statement said.

It said that the DMO while calculating the death of infants in Attappady did not take into account a number of deaths that had taken place in the private hospitals of Attappady and the nearby Coimbatore city where majority of the people from Attappady seek medical treatment.

They have also demanded the Government to order a comprehensive inquiry into the death of large number of tribal children in Attappady.

The Government’s action of not considering compensation to the family of the dead children is “cruel and a neglect to the tribal community as whole.”

The Government should immediately announce compensation to the families of the victims, the ‘Thampu’ statement said.