Andhra Pradesh

Doctors reach out to Chenchus inside Nallamala forest

A group of doctors examining Chenchu tribals at Garepenta Chenchugudem in Prakasam district.

A group of doctors examining Chenchu tribals at Garepenta Chenchugudem in Prakasam district.  

The villagers are not as wary of wild animals as they are of communicable diseases

The Chenchus, who have lived in the Nallamala forest for centuries, are more worried about contracting a dreaded water-borne disease than encountering wild animals.

Many tribals, including children, have died over the years due to communicable diseases, mainly due to a pitiful lack of medical infrastructure in this remote area of Prakasam district.

Moved by their plight, a group of doctors came together to hold medical camps in the area at frequent intervals.

Thus was born ‘Project Varenya’, said Dr. Sruthi Kondavetti of Manoja Memorial Charitable Trust. Dr. Sruthi was examining a group of Chenchus at the remote Garepenta Chenchugudem in Prakasam district during the weekend.

The project was taken up in association with Mr. Veer Kumar Mota from Skylark Medical India aimed at providing comprehensive healthcare to over 500 tribal families, who often miss the 'golden hour' and succumb to diseases while being moved to nearby hospitals in the plains.

Dr. Sruthi, along with Dr. Padmaja, Dr. Jagadeesh, Dr. Deepak Meher, Dr. Sam Katuri , Dr. Mounica, Dr. Ajay, and Dr. Meghna, made the Chenchus comfortable by encouraging them to participate in a game of snake and ladders and helped them affix their signature during ‘Na Santhakam’ campaign before starting the health checkup.

It was found during the medical examination that one in three women suffered from anaemia. Iron tablets and other medicines were distributed free of cost to the needy Chenchus as most of them were found to be malnourished in the absence of a balanced diet.

Chenchus, the original inhabitations of the Nallamalas, have long been hunter-gatherers and most of them found it difficult to adjust to a new way of life after they were moved to rehabilitation colonies in the plains or to the fringe areas of the forests. Most of them were underweight and suffered from stunting.

“We explained the importance of hand hygiene to the tribals as well as ways to prevent vector-borne diseases, newborn care and importance of breast feeding,” Dr.Sruthi explained.

It was noted that at least one in every family suffered from fever in the last two months. The endemicity was more for malaria and typhoid. Consanguinity was common in the community and so were genetic diseases like premature cannitis and icthyosis. The average age of marriage for the girls was 19, she added.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 5:06:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/doctors-reach-out-to-chenchus-inside-nallamala-forest/article30089282.ece

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