Cholanaikkan newborn dies of malnutrition at Nilambur

A newborn belonging to a Cholanaikkan couple living in the deep forest of Nilambur died apparently of malnutrition on Sunday night. The mother is in a critical condition at Government District Hospital, Nilambur.

Asha, wife of Kethan from Kuppumala tribal settlement deep inside the forest in Karulai range, said she had not got any treatment or nutrition support from the authorities, including the Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) and the Health department, since she conceived over eight months ago.

After Asha developed pain on Saturday morning, she left her home in the jungle and began a walk towards a hospital many kilometers away. On seeing an elephant herd on the way in the evening, she took shelter behind a large rock in the river and spent the night there. She resumed her journey on Sunday morning and reached Sayivila by afternoon. From there, with the help of a few men, Asha was carried to Government District Hospital at Nilambur.

Asha had been enervated when she reached the hospital by 5 p.m. Although she gave birth around 7 p.m., the newborn’s condition was critical. The baby was soon shifted to Government Medical College Hospital, Manjeri. But it died on the way.

Asha’s family said that they had alerted the authorities about her pregnancy, and that no medical care or nutritional supplement had been given to her.

ITDP officials said they had strengthened their surveillance of the tribal families living in the forests of Nilambur, especially in the wake of the recent infant deaths in Attappady. However, the ITDP district officer could not be reached for his comments.

The Mithra Jyothi Tribal Development Foundation, a non-government organisation working for the welfare of tribespeople, has sought action against ITDP and health officials for their failure in reaching out to the pregnant woman.

“The infant death is a case of murder. It could have been prevented. It happened because of sheer neglect by the authorities,” said Mithra Jyothi chairman Aju Koloth.

In a statement here on Tuesday, he also lashed out at the people’s representatives of Nilambur, including Rahul Gandhi, MP, and P.V. Anvar, MLA.

“Your Adivasi love should not be confined to a mobile phone or a television set. Make sure that the tribespeople of your constituency are not dying of malnutrition,” he told Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Anvar.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 7:29:27 pm |