Updated: March 11, 2016 6:37:50 am
The superstitious practice of branding babies to treat them claimed the life of a month-old infant in Odisha’s Nabarangpur district on Thursday.
The infant succumbed to infection after a local witchdoctor branded him with a hot iron nail a week ago. The infant had been taken to the witchdoctor after a vein on his abdomen became prominent.
The son of Dhana Gouda of B Maliguda village in the district’s Nandahandi block was declared dead on arrival at the district headquarters hospital on Thursday afternoon.
The infant had been branded on his tummy and chest eight days ago and this had led to an infection, said Dr Dharani Ranjan Satpathy, paediatrician at the hospital.
Officials said though Gouda had taken his child to a disari (a witch doctor) in the nearby block of Tentulikhunti after the vein became prominent.
The witchdoctor then branded the infant.
Hoping that the branding would cure the ‘ailment’, Gowda did not take his son to a hospital. Only when the infant’s condition deteriorated did he take him to the district headquarter hospital.
Manorama Majhi, former child development project officer of Nabarangpur and author of several books on traditional healing, said tribals tend to rush to witch doctors in such cases.
More than a dozen cases of branding have been reported from the Nabarangpur district over the past few months,
Two days ago, a 34-day-old girl from Papadahandi block of the district was hospitalised after being branded with hot iron bangles on her abdomen.
The condition of the girl is now better.
In January, a 15-day-old baby girl in Jharigaon block died after being branded with a hot bangle, while an 8-month-old boy in Maoism-affected Raighar block succumbed to septicaemia last month after his father applied the juice from the seed of the wild cashew apple, hoping it would heal his pneumonia and asthma.
Meanwhile, the district administration has started Jyoti, a 45-day-long awareness campaign, during which traditional healers would be made aware of the harms of branding as well as legal issues associated with it.
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