Our Tribal Brethren Next-door

 

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Casteism as yet retains its fundamental role in shaping the character of Indian rural society. Despite the gradual breaking away of the caste system in urban society it still continues to exert a major influence in determining the life of rural populations. Tribals constitute about 7.84% of Vidarbha’s urban population. Urban tribal population in Vidarbha’s Nagpur district is so large that it accounts for over half (57.34%) of Vidarbha’s urban tribal population.  

The tribal’s are a group of people who have lived at a particular place from time immemorial. In Central India the tribal belt stretches from Gujarat in the west up to Assam in the east across the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Just next door to us in the forests of Pench are located tribal folks subsisting in one of the poorest regions of the country, carrying on valiantly with primitive agriculture.

Anthropologically speaking the tribal system of social organization includes several local groups – villages, districts on lineage and normally includes a common territory, language, culture, economy, religion and belief, primitive law and even an education system. Yet quality of life of tribal people continues to be deplorable. While earlier their main occupation was hunting, gathering of wood and forest products and primitive shifting cultivation, they have now begun to settle down to a more permanent way of life.

Due to destruction of forest and non availability of proper facilities, tribal people continue to lead a poor quality of life. While the government makes efforts to improve economic, social, and educational standard of the tribal people, they are yet to join the mainstream of social, political and economic life to the best of their advantage. Empathetic social organizations are therefore working with Tribal’s to bring them into the fold of the common milieu of our country.

A number of welfare programmes for tribal communities are there for their upliftment. Even so tribal’s are engaged in a struggle for survival. They seek identity, autonomy equality and empowerment. They are moving out of ancestral lands to participate in civic life while retaining their own unique cultures. But several alarming poverty indicators, including precarious health indicators underline their lives.

Recognizing this need, HERD Foundation takes up medical health camps for tribal men and women in order to provide them with modern medicines and treatments that offer solace and relief to them when sick or in physical discomfort. Today we go to Wadamba village – a hub for tribal populations and our medical health checkups will take care of their medicinal needs.

 

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Wadamba Village – Forthcoming Venue for Meso Medical Health Camp

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Wadamba Village, the venue for the next meso camp organized by HERD Foundation, is about 75.2 km from Nagpur. Situated close-by, near to Highway Number 7 it takes an hour and a half to reach the place. Wadamba panchayat under Ramtek Inter panchayat comes under Nagpur-Zilla panchayat. The village is surrounded by Kurai Taluka towards North, Parseoni Taluka towards South, Bichhua Taluka towards west, and Mohadi Taluka towards South. Geo-coordinates for the place are latitude 18.114468 – longitude 73.095933.

Located close to Ramtek, other near-by villages include Warghat, Karwahi and Dahoda. It is about 27 kms from Ramtek with Tumsar, Kamthi and Savner some of the larger towns around having good enough road connectivity. Marathi remains the prevalent local language but Hindi is well understood. At an elevation of 332 meters above sea level, the closest railway station is 26 km away at Ramtek and Amdi Halt at a distance of 32 km.

Nagpur district has a network of government-run health facilities comprising of district hospitals offering tertiary-level care. The rural hospitals at the secondary level and the primary health centers, sub-centers and dispensaries provide basic healthcare to rural populations. Ramtek Taluka has government run health centers following the public healthcare system offering state-owned healthcare facilities to people that are either fully or partially subsidized.

But all of us who have worked at the grassroots for the benefit of the rural people – be it for education, healthcare, rural enterprises or any other beneficial scheme, know full well the fate of the outreach of such well laid plans. The best of us have had experiences of vacant PHCs, absentee health care staff, missing equipment and so on. Add to this people’s own apathy towards their good health! And the scene is rife for adverse health consequences.

HERD Foundation has chosen a self-appointed path to extend healthcare services to the rural populations at their doorsteps. With the close collaboration proffered by NKPSIMS and LMH Medical Institutes it becomes easier to facilitate health camps that check out people for common ailments and chronic conditions giving them medical advice, free medicines and referrals for dire conditions. It remains a matter of great satisfaction to see the people respond to our ministrations, especially in this inclement monsoon weather.

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OUR ROLE IN PUBLIC SAFETY AGAINST GAS PIPELINE HAZARDS

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Gas pipelines are part of rural spaces in our country and are essential to the nation’s industries. They are considered the safest most reliable and efficient manner of transporting natural gas or other petroleum products. The companies running these pipelines must work hard to maintain a safe and reliable system to avoid the occasional leak or damage that may occur. In case a natural gas pipeline gets damaged it will result in severe injury or death through ignition, explosion or asphyxiation. 

It therefore becomes very important to take active steps to ensure that the health, safety and security of the communities and the environment along these pipelines are well maintained. The companies involved should conduct routine monitoring and patrolling of the pipelines to ensure safety of the people around them.  Likewise communities settled alongside must report emergencies like gas odor or anything suspicious.  

In case you detect gaseous smells there are certain precautions to be taken immediately.

  • Leave the surrounding site immediately and warn others.
  • Don’t turn on or off any electrical appliances – not even battery switches or cell phones so as to avoid creating a spark.
  • Call emergency services immediately from another location.

There are several signs that can indicate a leak is present. If you see any of these signs, please notify immediately to get going with investigation of the situation.

  • Hissing sound or odor of gas near a pipeline.
  • Ice formation on the ground above a pipeline.
  • Distressed or dead vegetation above a pipeline.

Gas pipes have a job of their own to do and shouldn’t be used for anything else – certainly not clothes-lines, free-form closets or grounds for electrical appliances. Avoid damp corrosive environments around gas pipes and take corrective action if you see a badly corroded pipe. Call and report this condition of a badly corroded pipe immediately.

Safety First – Gas Trunkline Transmission Operators

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The Wikipedia list on the Internet states Belgium, Canada, China, Malaysia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia and United States as countries that have had multiple gastrunk line accidents causing fatalities, grievous injuries and loss/damage to properties. Incidentally India does not figure on the list! However media reports continue to state GAIL, ONGC, GSPL, IOC and Reliance to have flouted many a safety regulation in the past.

A gas trunkline is one of the key elements of the gas transmission system that is designed for natural gas transmission from production areas to consumption points. It is the main means of long-distance gas transmission. Early this morning’s GAIL pipeline blast killed 14 persons when a fire broke out in the gas trunkline at Nagaram village in Mamidikuduru Mandal of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh.

The 18-inch pipeline with 70-80 kg psi is 200 feet away from the ONGC gas collecting station Tatipaka. It is said the fire was triggered by a household stove in the early hours when it came in contact with the leaked gas cloud which was already spread and settled in the area. While the GAIL website provides most other information there is no mention at all of safety norms to be exercised or regulations to be complied with.

As concerned onlookers we feel that safety norms should be made a compulsory compliance by all such companies involved in gas trunkline operations.  Natural Gas is a new age fuel, well known for its lowest carbon to hydrogen ratio that burns completely, making it the cleanest of fossil fuels. Natural Gas satisfies most of the requirements for fuel in a modern day industrial society, being efficient, non-polluting and relatively economical.

The periodic uncertainties and volatility in both the price and supply of oil have also helped Natural Gas emerge as a major fuel in the energy basket across countries. But in the race to grab market shares, companies are flouting safety measures. This is not the first time such an incident has happened. We need to take better care of installations and regularly check for damage or signs of danger. The following link provides information on upkeep of gas trunklines, that we all need to be aware about.

http://www.lacledegas.com/safety/safetytips.php

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Food for Thought – Breaking the Silence around Women’s Ill-health

 

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Happy Through it All

We are really surprised by the show-up by rural women in our medical health camps. They come in large numbers and sit around patiently waiting for their turns. The majority of them suffer from all kinds of aches and pains; from debilitating lower back pain, to aching calf muscles, and even chronic migraines. One would have thought that rural women – work-hardy souls, bent double with domestic drudgery and field work would enjoy deep nightly slumbers to sleep away their pains. Alas this is not so.

Nutrition plays a major role in women’s good health. Psychological well being also positively affects the physical health status. A woman’s health is often dramatically impaired by malnutrition. India currently has one of the highest rates of malnourished women among developing countries. A study in 2000 found that nearly 70 percent of non-pregnant women and 75 percent of pregnant women are anemic. One of the reasons of malnutrition remains gender imbalance in distribution of food resources.

It is an age old tradition for women to deprive themselves of all essential food items. They save it all for the next helping by brothers, sons and husbands. Studies indicate that nutritional intake in early adolescence by girls can affect her reproductive health. Maternal malnutrition has also been associated with increased risk of maternal mortality as also child birth defects. Addressing the problem of malnutrition would lead to beneficial outcomes for women and children.

Further our health care system remains skewed. It is a fact that healthcare professionals remain concentrated in urban areas. This results in people from rural areas seeking care from unqualified providers who lack formal training. HERD Foundation realizes that health is an important factor that contributes to human well-being of rural communities. Women do face multiple health problems that need to be compassionately addressed.  HERD Foundation works despite gender, class and ethnic disparities existing in rural areas through a healthcare delivery system that improvises medical services, especially for the women.

 

A Doctor for All Seasons

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The struggle to equate the balance between the haves and have-nots, finds perfect expression in Dr Amol Deshmukh’s undertaking offering healthcare delivery to all sections of society. His sensitivity to ailing populations, surviving in the middle of nowhere, has actualized and changed the context in which healthcare delivery can take place; even in remote rural regions. Being a doctor himself, often finds him in a hands-on role at ongoing medical health camps organized by HERD Foundation.

It is noteworthy that his politico-educationist backdrop allows him to envision a larger picture for the operational provision of essential healthcare services for disadvantaged people. Following the historic tradition of social service emanating from familial conditioning, provides him with resilience to continue offering such benevolent handouts to assist the underprivileged. Yes, they do well with free medical check-ups, subsidized healthcare costs, besides direct access to finest hospitals.

It is a happy combination of intentions and close collaboration and participation with Medical Institutes that adequately address health issues for rural people having little or no access to medical care. It must be a sense of deep conviction that enables him to pay attention, understand and support the lacunae in healthcare delivery, that makes him keep at it through innovative approaches for extending such outreach to people who need it so critically.

Notwithstanding a well-defined, public healthcare delivery system that is stagnating everywhere in our country, here is a doctor advocating and promoting a health care delivery model that is totally ingenious and being run selflessly for the benefit of rural populations, at their very door steps. Organizing mini, meso and mega medical healthcare camps comes easy for this Doctor for all Seasons, whose forte essentially lies in hospital management. Also he does not hesitate to readily pick up the stethoscope and listen a kid’s heartbeat or counsel addicts to a better way of life.