MELGHAT, known to the outside world by two words “Malnutrition” and “Project Tiger’’, a hilly forest area in the Satpuda mountain ranges is habitat for Tiger, Bison, Bear, snakes and many more animals. ‘Melghat’ stands for its name, which means ‘cluster of Ghats’.
It is 150 Km away from district place & to reach there one has to cross the forest, mountains & zigzag road(sharp Ghats) of approximately 100 Km.
In summer temperature sore to 48 Deg C.,in winter mercury goes down up to 2 Degree C&It rains heavily (up to 1500mm) in rainy season. During rain, many times electricity, communication & transportation system collapses completely, sometimes continuously for 8-10 days.
Total 320 villages spread over the area of 4000 sq. kmare located far away from each other having population density is about 60-70 person per square kilometer. Many of these villages are with very poor or no infrastructure like connectivity, transportation, communication, electricity, basic amenitites. This area is highly lacking with advanced education and health care facilities.
Approximately 75% of the population is tribal in which Korku is main tribe. Most of the tribal (>90 %) are farmers or labors living very hard life. Most of the tribal (>75%) are below poverty line & illiterate (>50%), living in hamlets (>90%) without electricity.
B] Observation on Health front of Melghat during initial days.
Main issues in Melghat were very high child deaths, Premature adults deaths, Maternal mortality rate, malnutrition & home deliveries (>80%.)
[Under 5 children mortality rate >100 per 1000 live births & Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) >70 per 1000 live birth. Prevalence of sever malnutrition more than 10%.].
Malnutrition & children deaths of preschool children were burning issue. Cataract, Addiction, AIDs, Malaria, gastro- enteritis, anemia, respiratory tract infection, hypertension are other main health related issues. In addition, animal bites, illiteracy, poverty, unawareness about farming & good food habits, child marriages, exploitation were other problem areas &needed urgent attention.
Due to lack of proper medical facilities (hospitals, Doctors, staff, medicines, instruments etc) at local level & superstitions among tribals, tribal used to go to traditional faith healers /quacks (Pujari & Bhumka) for illness. ‘Damma’ a method to treat patient by burning skin by red hot iron was widely followed.
Average distance of District hospital is 150 km.