The Jharkhand government will set up health centres in villages and hamlets inhabited by tribes whose population is dwindling, officials said.
In all 2648 villages and hamlets are inhabited by particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) who number 0.11% of the state’s 3.29 crore population, health officials said.
The Centre renamed primitive tribal groups as PVTGs in 2006. These groups, with zero or negative population growth and very low literacy rate, live on hunting wild animals and gathering forest produce.
“The proposal has been drawn up by the health department… The entire project will be funded by the Jharkhand government,” said Ashish Singhmar, state mission director of the National Health Mission (NHM), on Sunday. “The financial implications of the project, to be executed next fiscal, are being drawn up.”
According to a NHM concept note, the project will cover eight PVTGs -- Asur, Birhor, Birajia, Korwa, Sabar, Pahariya (Baiga), Mal Pahariya and Souriya Pahariya.
According to the 2011 census, only 5,000 Birhors, 6000 Birajias and 9000 Sabars lived in the state. The Unesco has tagged these tribes as ‘critically endangered’ based on language.
The NHM will identify districts with the highest number of PVTGs and the project is likely to be implemented in Ranchi district first, officials said.
“Health centres will be set up in their villages, irrespective whether they are on mountains, hills or forests. An auxiliary nurse and midwife (ANM), a sahiya (accredited health worker) and a paramedic will be posted in each village,” said Dr Praveen Chandra, director-in-chief of state health services.
“It is a priority project for the betterment of tribal people’s health in Jharkhand by giving them access to health facilities.”
According to a 2014 health department report, PVTGs travel at least three to eight kilometers to reach a health centre. For Pahariyas and Asurs living in mountains, health facilities are at least 10 km away from their hamlets, the report said.
In Latehar district, 11 Birajia children died of a mystery disease in 2014 and last year more than 10 PVTG children died across the state, health officials said.
“Mortality from common diseases, maternal and infant mortality and malnutrition are extremely high among PVTGs, more than the state average. These tribes are isolated and health and social welfare programmes hardly reach them,” said Sarfaraz, a researcher on Pahariyas in Santhal Parganas.
According the census, population of PVTGs in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh is 7.85 lakh, followed by Jharkhand (3.87 lakh), Andhra Pradesh (3.34 lakh), Maharashtra (2.56 lakh), Odisha (68,745) and Bihar (10,873).