August 9, 2020 2:08:46 am
Two years after an expert committee submitted the first-ever report on tribal health and recommended a slew of measures, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is yet to act on it. The committee chairperson, Dr Abhay Bang, has written to Union Health Minister ahead of the World Indigenous People’s Day on August 9 urging an action plan on the basis of the report.
The expert committee on tribal health was formed in 2013 by the UPA government to identify the health needs of the tribal population and provide focussed intervention. The need, its committee members said, came because tribal health requirements are different from urban and rural pockets.
The report, submitted in August 2018, focussed on providing health interventions to 11 crore tribal population in India. It recommended that state governments should create independent structures, like Tribal Health Mission, to have dedicated services separate from existing National Rural or Urban Health Mission. “We also recommended redesigning of service delivery. Rather than expecting tribal people to come to hospitals in the city, health services should be provided at the community level,” said Bang, also head of NGO Search.
The committee had also recommended an annual expenditure of Rs 2,500 per capita on the health of indigenous people.
In his letter, Bang said in the last two years no steps have been taken to implement the recommendations. On Friday, Vardhan responded that “action on the report will be initiated”.
The 12-member committee also included Prof T Sundaraman, former dean of School of Health Systems Studies, TISS, Dr Faujdar Ram, director, Indian Institute of Population Studies, and Dr Joseph Kujur, from Tribal Research Institute. The committee observed that 40.6 per cent Scheduled Tribe (ST) population lives below poverty lines (BPL), as compared to 20.5 per cent in the remaining population. Only 10.7 per cent tribals have access to tap water.
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