The KEM Hospital Research Center and the Swiss Tropical Institute, developed a collaborative project on the study of Malaria. How frequently both P. falciparum and P. vivax co–infect an individual was the basis of the study. The previous data from the State Malariology Department showed a high prevalence of both P. falciparum and P. vivax in some of the PHCs of Thane district. Of these the PHC at Sakharshet in Jawhar Taluka was selected for study. This gave us an opportunity to visit the area and to take notice of the health problems in addition to Malaria. The following gives a summary of our impressions of the health problems of the tribal people.
The specific health problems of the tribal peoples can be summarized as follows:
Alcoholism and other psychic and socio–cultural ramifications of alcoholism constitute the major problem among the tribal peoples. Brewing of alcohol from rice, millets, ‘mohua’ flower and fruits had been practiced traditionally. However, in recent years inroads have been made by businessmen by making inexpensive molasses and ammonium chloride available for making alcoholic drinks for home breweries. Consequently, very large quantities of cheap liquor are brewed. The traditional tribal society was singularly free from crime. However, the increased availability of cheap intoxicating drinks, invasion made by the electronic media into the villages, migration of the tribal people to non tribal areas for work and the treatment they receive from the non tribal people are sure to increase the crime rate. Blood borne diseases like Hepatitis B virus infection is likely to be high in the tribal population because of the common social practice of tattooing. This together with alcoholism may result in increased number of chronic active hepatitis and cirrhosis of liver cases. However, no detailed studies have been undertaken on these aspects in the tribal populations.
- Problems of drinking water and water borne diseases.
As the tribal people live in the hilly terrain, during the rainy season the water flows down very fast. In the dry season, the scarcity of water is very acute in most places. Water borne disease like helminthiasis, amoebiasis, giardiasis and diarrhea diseases are rampant in the tribal population