The Health Department, in a report sent to the Union Ministry of Health on Tuesday, has noted a steep rise in the number of abortion cases among tribal women in the Attappady settlements in Palakkad district.
The report said “during the last 20 days 10 abortion cases were recorded among tribal women in Attappady.” Eight cases were reported in July, 2013, seven in June, and 11 in May.
During the last financial year (2012-13), 44 abortion cases were reported as against 27 cases in the previous year.
More than half the abortion cases were of mothers in their second or third delivery.
The cases of abortion and still-born were brought to the attention of the District Medical Officer and Health authorities after a medical camp conducted by doctors, organised by `Thampu’, a voluntary organisation last year in Attappady.
President of ‘Thampu’ Rajendra Prasad said a health survey conducted in the tribal hamlets had also found a large number of cases of abortions, still-born and infant deaths.
He said the alarming increase in abortions showed that measures taken by the government to “improve community outreach to identify high-risk mothers” and provide them medical care and nutritious food had failed.
The directive given by UNICEF, which had studied the problems of mother and child-care in Attappady, for “improved surveillance and sentinel surveillance to prevent recurrence of infant deaths” had not been implemented.
It had suggested implementation of “community- based Integrated Maternal and Newborn Child Illness (IMNCI) scheme.”
Also “improved dietary practices for pregnant women and lactating mothers.”
The UNICEF had suggested early registration of antenatal care for weight management of mothers to prevent low birth weight and Intra Uterine Growth Retardation.
Directives were given to prevent and treat anaemia in pregnancy and community assessment and screening of anemia and haemoslobinopathies.
The Dr. B. Ekbal medical experts’ committee, in its report on the health problems in Attappady submitted to the government in May this year, had highlighted the serious problem of increasing number of abortion cases.