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Updated: November 3, 2013 10:05 IST

Roadmap to tribal wellbeing 

Aarti Dhar
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Infant and maternal mortality and neo-natal deaths are unacceptably high among tribals. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar
Infant and maternal mortality and neo-natal deaths are unacceptably high among tribals. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

The government sets up an expert committee to develop a national framework to improve the quality of healthcare available to tribals

Recognising that health indicators are generally poor in the country’s tribal areas, the government has decided to develop a national framework and roadmap to improve the appropriateness, access, and quality of health services among the tribal population.  

The national framework will be drafted by an expert committee constituted by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to better address healthcare challenges of the Scheduled Tribes population, particularly those living in the tribal districts and tribal development blocks. 

As per the 2001 Census, the tribal population was 8.43 crore or eight per cent of the total population, with over 90 per cent living in rural areas with poor social indicators. North-eastern States have the highest tribal population followed by Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. 

Infant mortality, maternal mortality and neo-natal death figures are unacceptably high among the STs because of lack of healthcare infrastructure, low literacy rates and sometimes traditional practices.   

In addition to reviewing the special schemes and programmes and interventions taken by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, identify gaps and deficiencies in their implementation, the expert committee will suggest strategic interventions for improved implementation.  

This decision was taken in the wake of a general observation that the health indicators were generally poor in tribal areas and that there was a need to review the health programmes and approach to improve delivery and performance of health programmes in these areas. 

The expert committee will prepare strategic guidelines for States to draw up Programme Implementation Plans, including model District Health Action Plans for tribal health based on tribal health issues and diseases burden, and review the available health data with a view to maintaining a regular database specific to tribal health. 

The committee, chaired by Abhay Bhang (SEARCH), will have 12 members in addition to representatives from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Secretaries of Department of Tribal Welfare from Chhattisgarh and Odisha and Commissioner Tribal Welfare of Andhra Pradesh as special invitees.  

Asked to submit its report within six months, the expert group will also review the information on health infrastructure and availability of human resources and make recommendations on interventions to be made to create, or strengthen the existing infrastructure for health in tribal blocks. 

The experts will examine and suggest interventions to address the specific needs of the tribal population, especially the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups, and suggest specific interventions necessary in collaboration with other Ministries to improve the social determinants of health in tribal areas, in addition to suggesting ways to improved supervision and monitoring systems.

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