52 tribal infant deaths reported in the past 17 months

Two more child deaths were reported from Attappady on Wednesday. A five-day-old baby girl and another girl aged eight died on the day.

The baby girl, the third child of Omana and Murugan, was delivered through a caesarean section on June 28 at the Mannarkkad taluk hospital. Since the child developed some complications the doctors referred her to the medical college. She was operated upon, but her life could not be saved. The child weighed 2.3 kg at birth. Omana’s first child, a son, had died a few days after birth. The second child, a daughter, is now three years old. The family belongs to the Kurumba tribe of Pudur panchayat.

The eight-year-old girl, Bhavani, died on the way to the Kozhikode medical college hospital. The class III student, the daughter of Mallika and Chinnan from the Paloor tribal hamlet of Pudur, had suddenly developed breathing trouble and swelling on her face on Wednesday. Doctors at the Kottathara tribal specialty hospital in Attappady referred her to the medical college hospital. But the ambulance carrying her broke down and she died on the way, her relatives said.

Fifty-two tribal infant deaths were reported from Attappady in the past 17 months due to malnutrition and anaemia.

Various packages were announced for Attappady by both the Union and State governments, but they are yet to yield results. The Kottathara tribal specialty hospital has just one specialist doctor, a gynaecologist.

Rajendra Prasad, president of Thampu, a tribal organisation, said that things were not improving in Attappady. “Because of the lack of specialised doctors and equipment in the Kottathara hospital, most cases are referred to the medical colleges in Thrissur and Kozhikode. Critically ill patients die on the way to these hospitals,” he said.

Mr. Prasad said that potable water was yet to be supplied to the patients of the Kottathara hospital. “There is no water treatment plant in the hospital. Muddy water from the Bhavani river is pumped directly to the hospital’s water tanks for supply,” he said.

“Our demand that at least boiled or bottled water be supplied to the patients was not heeded,” Mr. Prasad said.

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