Sickle Cell Disease In Vidarbha Forest Areas

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle Cell Anemia Disease Among Our Tribal Populations

The tribal belt in which HERD Foundation operates is well known for people suffering from sickle-cell disease. The disease is said to be a severe hereditary form of anemia. What happens is that a mutated form of hemoglobin distorts red blood cells into crescent shapes having low oxygen levels. It has been found that it is commonest among those of African descent.

Sickle cell anemia is the most common form of sickle cell disease or SCD. It is a serious disorder in which the body makes sickle-shaped red blood cells. Normal red blood cells are disc-shaped and move easily through blood vessels. They contain an iron-rich protein called hemoglobin that is carries oxygen from lungs to the rest of the body.

In sickle cells abnormal hemoglobin causes cells to develop into crescent shaped sickle cells that are stiff and sticky. They tend to block blood flow in blood vessels of limbs and organs. Blocked blood flow causes pain and organ damage and can raise risk of infection. Unfortunately sickle cell anemia has no widely available cure. But treatments improve anemia and lower complications by alleviating symptoms and complications.

Doctors have learned a great deal more about sickle cell anemia. They know its causes, how it affects the body and how to treat many of its complications. Sickle cell anemia may actually vary from patient to patient. With proper care and treatment people can have improved quality of life and reasonable health. Because of improved treatments and care, people having sickle cell anemia now have longer age expectancies.

Symptoms of the disease include chronic pain or fatigue. Sickle hemoglobin is highly prevalent in Vidarbha region with prevalence rate of 4-40%. It has variable clinical presentation and most patients remain asymptomatic for longer periods. Less numbers of deaths are reported due to this cause because of ignorance of autopsy surgeon in considering this disease as a cause of death despite of its high prevalence.

Sickle hemoglobin is prevalent among tribal populations of central, southern and western India. Its variable frequency ranges from 10-23%. Increased prevalence is reported in non tribal communities of these areas too. Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh show higher prevalence of this disease. Actually Central India region is a focus of sickle cell disorder and the prevalence in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra ranges between 4-40% with average sickle cell gene frequency being 4.3%.

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle Hemoglobin is Highly Prevalent in Vidarbha Region

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HERD Foundation Medical Clinic in Pauni – The Outbacks

Pauni Clinic

                                  HERD Foundation & Lata Mangeshkar Hospital Out-Patient Clinic Inauguration at Pauni

HERD Foundation and Lata Mangeshkar Hospital established a new medical clinic in Pauni, Ramtek District that primarily serves low-income tribals and villages settled around here. Word of mouth publicity steadily draws patients in large numbers to the clinic that sits by the highway road in the main bazaar of Pauni. Initially being run three days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, patients line up well in advance at the open space in front of commercial building standing just off the road.

An opening ceremony took place on September 9, 2014 for this new Out-Patient Department Clinic located on the Highway No. 7 at the Main Bazar of Village Pauni, 75 kms from Nagpur. The clinic inaugurated by Smt Roopatai Deshmukh and Vice-Dean Dr H. Kanade, NKPSIMS had local panchayat members, HERD Foundation staff and local people present for the inaugural function. Villagers looked happy that they were to get access to medical services in their village.

HERD Foundation is locally well-known because of the series of medical camps that were undertaken in the region. Looking at the dearth of medical services and on insistence of local people the decision was taken to open a local clinical center offering check-ups, diagnosis and treatment options through services of in-house doctors. The clinic hours are 10:00 to 02:30 in the afternoon. But in reality we get such a flow of patents that doctors are busy till five in the evening.

The team of doctors is experienced, compassionate and well versed in public health services who are working hard to get the patients on the road to recovery. Serious patients are assisted in getting immediate medical attention at Lata Mangeshkar Hospital at their varied departments as the case maybe – Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, Orthopedics, Ophthalmology, Surgery, Dental and ENT Departments. For the nearly 400 patients checked on six days in the clinic that opened just two weeks back, there’s been much relief.

The clinic is proving to be useful in this remote region for the largely tribal population availing of medical services. The clinic aims at providing primary care to tribal belt of patients whose numbers keep surging. The larger-than-expected numbers proves the need for such assistance in an area where there is severe shortage of doctors, nurses and primary care health providers. They get ready access to specialist doctors, to even receive emergency care in needed cases.

The Pauni Clinic is a community health center operated by HERD Foundation that’s been set up after a bit of redesigning to make healthcare more accessible to patients living in remote forested areas. Our goal is to extend medical services for these neglected people in a region where primary health care is nearly non-existent. Right now it’s looking to be a great venture and we feel sure that it will be a success. Its working great and we know for sure that in the times to come, we would have done a remarkable service.

Access to Medical Services

                                                           Patients Surging With Each Passing Day

August 9, International Day of Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples Logo

International Day for World Indigenous Peoples Logo

“The interests of the indigenous peoples must be part of the new development agenda in order for it to succeed… Together, let us recognize and celebrate the valuable and distinctive identities of indigenous peoples around the world. Let us work even harder to empower them and support their aspirations. “

~~ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

August 9, demarcated as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was proclaimed as such by UN General Assembly that set aside the day for the well being of the world’s indigenous peoples. The second decade of this special day celebrates the thematic aspiration “A Decade for Action and Dignity.” This year’s focus aims at “Bridging the gap: implementing the rights of indigenous peoples”.

The first “World Conference on Indigenous Peoples” will be held on 22-23 September 2014. The meeting will be an opportunity to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples, including pursuing the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The objective of this year’s theme will highlight the importance of implementing the rights of indigenous peoples through policies and programmes at both the national and international level.

HERD Foundation recognizes the importance of Article 366 (25) under Constitution of India, that defines our indigenous peoples as “such tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342”. Article 342 prescribes the procedure for specification of a scheduled tribe that offers the oft-used criterion to identify such indigenous groups based on attributes like –

  • Geographical isolation – tribes living in cloistered, exclusive, remote and inhospitable areas such as hills and forests.
  • Backwardness – their livelihoods based on primitive agriculture, low-value closed economy with a low level of technology leading to poverty, and having low levels of literacy and health.
  • Distinctive culture, language and religion – communities have developed their own distinctive culture, language and religion.
  • Shyness of contact – having a marginal degree of contact with other cultures and people.

The Gond tribes settled in our parts comprise of the dominant tribal populations and they used to be largely concentrated in the hilly, forested tracts of the state. Gradually however our tribal people are being absorbed and are being included in urban mainstream population. There are said to be about 50 sub-groups of Gond tribes that inhabit much of the central parts of our country. They are known to be of Dravidian lineage linguistically and racially are said to belong to Proto-australoid stock.

The Gonds migrated in Central provinces from the south through Chanda and Bastar in 14th century where they established the Gond kingdom. The present city of Nagpur was founded at the beginning of the 18th century by the Gond Raja, Bakht Buland. They were warriors but are now tillers and animal grazers. They remain largely subjugated to low status and rural populations remain isolated.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs set up in 1999 after the bifurcation of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment provides a focused approach on the integration of indigenous peoples of India with a view to develop their socio-economic positioning. The tribal departments are all working in a coordinated and planned manner to implement the overall policy, planning and coordination of programmes for development of ST’s. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs remains the nodal Ministry for the welfare and activities for the development of indigenous peoples of India.

Tilling the Land

The Gonds Today

Don’t Mess With Nature

Malin Landslide Disaster

Ecologically Sensitive Tracts in Sahaydari Valley

The Malin landslide was a disaster waiting to happen. It is mindlessness of authorities that invited the catastrophe in the wee morning hours, only to flatten an entire village into a slushy mound. Most houses along with the over 30 feet tall temple at the base of the hill, close to Dimbhe dam, are buried along with sleeping inmates. The village school and two-three houses are all that is left of Malin.

The residents, predominantly tribals – Koli Mahadeos, Thakars, Kathodis, Katkaris, Koli Dhors and Tokare Kolis were Dimbhe Dam oustees relocated in Ambegaon taluka. Following the ‘Tribal Settlement Plan’ the Tribal Development Department had relocated people in Malin that figured along with 30 other villages resettled in the vicinity. The fact that rainy season will have landslides occurring in the hills and ghats was completely overlooked.

It is well known that this area, tucked in the fragile ecological area in the valley of Sahyadri Hills, is prone to landslides. Unplanned urbanization has even farm-houses, roads, hotels, quarrying and other environmentally detrimental activities happening here. The area on hill slopes too is rife with unwarranted construction activities, in the hitherto unknown Malin.

However the powers-that-be knew full well Malin would face disaster. It was included in the list of ecologically fragile areas that were to be preserved. There is to be no human interference here as per the notification issued by the Ministry of Environment & Forests in 2013 under list of State-wise, District-wise and Taluka-wise villages in ESA (Ecologically Sensitive Area). Malin along with a list of villages falls in this category.

It also appears that the comprehensive Western Ecology Report by Dr Madhav Gadgil, a scientist of International repute, had been pushed under the carpet. Other geology experts had warned of the likelihood of landslides in villages located along the backwaters of Dimbhe dam. The recommendation had been that the state government undertake a survey of villages to identify the hills that display “landslide symptoms”.

Geological Survey of India, Nagpur has sent a team to survey the area. The survey will identify cracks in hills, tilting of trees and electric poles and these signs will require villagers to be relocated to safer places. Actually the reason for landslide at Malin has also been due to leveling of hilly land for cultivation for which trees were uprooted. With nothing to allow the soil to hold on to, it became more prone to disaster. Also stone quarrying activity made land unstable leading to accelerating the landslide.

People had of course been reporting the hill slopes were unstable. Cracks in hillsides and houses, tilting of trees had been observed in villages in a five-kilometer radius of Dimbhe dam’s catchment area. With the incessant rainfall of monsoons, indiscriminate tree felling, excavation and construction activity the waters had seeped into the hills making the soil soft that gradually lead to the catastrophe.

Don't Mess With Nature

Malin Landslide Disaster