A 90-member team of medical investigators will embark on a multidisciplinary and multimodal research on tribal health in a pilot project starting from 18 villages in east Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, an official said. The research called ‘Blossom’ will be carried out under the mentorship of the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) to study the prevalence of eight common diseases among the tribal population due to their lifestyle and provide solutions for it.
Talking to PTI, MUHS’ regional coordinator Dr Sanjeev Chaudhary said India’s tribal population is the third largest in the world and adivasis form 8.7 per cent of the country’s population. “Despite the government’s best efforts and schemes, tribals have not been weaned off of their old lifestyle, which involves superstitions, taboo practices and certain food habits, among other things,” Dr Chaudhary said.
A team comprising medical officers, associate professors, specialists, medical students and paramedics will conduct a study on eight common diseases prevalent in tribals such as breast cancer, liver cirrhosis, lifestyle disorders, osteoporosis, sexually-transmitted diseases, sickle cell, oral cancer and malnutrition.
The basic intention of the research is to study the culture, religious practices, superstitions, food habits and other factors responsible for the ailments found in tribals, he said. The study will be conducted under the mentorship of the MUHS’ vice-chancellor Lt Gen Madhuri Kanitkar, in association with the tribal development department, Gondwana University and Laxmanrao Mankar Trust.
The MUHS will kick off the project in Chandrapur-Gadchiroli, Deori-Gondia and Ramtek-Parseoni belts of east Vidarbha, Dr Chaudhary said. "We have identified six villages in each of the three regions, which have more than 95 per cent tribal population,” he said.
The research will be carried out in three phases – screening, surveillance, solution cum service, he said. In the first phase, tribals will be screened for breast cancer, liver cirrhosis, lifestyle disorders, osteoporosis, sexually-transmitted diseases, sickle cell disease, oral cancer and malnutrition, Dr Chaudhary said.
"We have formed a team of 21 people in each of these regions for screening, comprising professors and associate professors from homoeopathy, ayurveda and allopathy streams, project officers of the tribal development department, anganwadi sevikas, medical students, pathologists and two teachers from the Laxmanrao Mankar trust," Dr Chaudhary said.
The screening will be carried out from September 1 to October 30 and the data generated during this phase will be stored in the MUHS’ regional centre, he said. In the second phase, a research council of nine members, including doctors and lecturers of medical colleges, will be formed to analyse the data, study the observations and take inferences.
Top health consultants specialising in the prevalent ailments will study the observations and inferences, find causes for the diseases and provide solutions to tackle them. "We will convert these suggestions and solutions into recommendations and bring out a white paper on tribal health, which will then be presented to the Centre and President of India," Dr Chaudhary said.
Solutions given by the specialists will be implemented in the tribal regions. Students of the national service scheme of the MUHS will render their services and monitor the project for the next three years, he said. The impact of the study will be conveyed to the United Nations as well, Dr Chaudhary added. PTI CLS