Kerala

Two more infant deaths in Attappady

Tribal children at the Mamanna Ooru tribal settlement in Attappady, Palakkad.   | Photo Credit: K_K_Mustafah

Two more cases of infant deaths owing to underweight complications have been reported from the tribal belts of Attappady in the past one week. This is despite the claims of intervention by the Health Department to fight poverty and undernourishment.

The six-day-old infant of Rajan and Parvathy of the Guddayur tribal settlement at Sholayur died at the Government Medical College Hospital, Thrissur, on Wednesday. The girl, weighing 1.2 kg, was born at the Government Tribal Specialty Hospital at Kottathara last Friday. The kid was shifted to the MCH on showing symptoms of heart ailments.

Last Saturday, the four-day-old child of Murugan and Vinooja of the Varagampady settlement died at a private nursing home near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. The boy weighed hardly 2.8 kg. Officials said the condition of the boy worsened after he choked on breast milk. With these two cases, the death toll of infants has risen to five since January this year. Infant and neonatal deaths are stalking the region despite several multicrore health schemes for pregnant and lactating mothers and children.

Health officials say anaemia and malnutrition are still prevalent in the tribal belts and workers have prepared a list of over 3,000 children requiring immediate attention. Figures with the Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) and the Tribal Speciality Hospital show at least 20 cases of neonatal deaths in the past two years. There were nine near-term intrauterine deaths and 23 recorded cases of spontaneous abortion in the given period.

Most of the malnutrition and infant mortality cases have been reported from the remote areas of Pattimalam, Vellakulam, Nellipathi, Kottamala, Kavundikkal, Palur, Vattalakki, Kallakkara, Thoova, Upper Manjikandi, Lower Abbanur, Kolappadi, Chavadiyur, Upper Mulli, Veerakallu, and Bhoothivazhi.

Going by the 2011 census, Attappady’s tribal population has dwindled from 90.26% in 1951 to 34% of the area’s total population. In absolute terms, there are only 30,658 tribespeople in the 192 hamlets.

Recently, Health Minister K.K. Shylaja visited Attappady and promised steps to revive all defunct community kitchens, which offer at least one nutritious meal a day to children and pregnant and lactating mothers.

“Each kitchen requires milk, egg, pulses, millets, and quality rice to bridge nutrition deficiencies. But in practice, only rice and one variety of pulses reach most of the kitchens. Besides, anganwadi workers in charge of the community kitchens are now given additional responsibilities and are not able to concentrate on nutrition-related challenges,” said an ITDP official.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 7:58:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/two-more-infant-deaths-in-attappady/article18448756.ece

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