ICHHA Foundations conducted two medical camps for Chenchu Tribes in association with 25 local medical doctors and local administration of Lingala at Lingala and Errapenta in Khammam district of Telangana to screen, detect, treat and provide medical services at the doorsteps of tribes. These medical camps aimed to reduce the costs attached with hospital visits and ensure a continuum of care that is essential for reducing adverse outcomes linked with poorly controlled health of Chenchus. ICHHA Foundation in aid and support of under privileged conducted various philanthropic activities in Mahaboobnagar district.
Chenchus are Aboriginal tribes residing in the central hill stations of AP. They inhabit the Nallamalla hills which have been a part of Nagaruna Sagar, the Tiger Sanctuary for centuries in AP. They are mainly found in the districts of Mahboobnagar, Nalgonda, Prakasam, Guntur and Kurnool.
To enhance the access to comprehensive medical service for Chenchus, which is deprived to the community due to their interior locations, ICHHA Foundation conducted a medical camp on September 20, 2015 in which 584 tribal population benefited. Similarly on December 5, 2015 a camp held at Errapenta (interior of Nallamala Forest) in which 245 members from Chenchu community benefited.
Hon’ble Health Minister Mr. C. Laxma Reddy of Telangana and local MLA Mr. Guvvala Balaraju were present during the first camp and applauded the efforts of local Medical Doctors and ICHHA Foundation activities. Health Minster also called up on the tribes to utilise the medical service. During both the medical camps medical tests such as Blood Pressure, Random Blood Sugar, Spirometry, Oxygen saturation, Body temperature, ECG, Hemoglobin, Pulse rate and BMI (Height and Weight) test were conducted and based on the test results, relevant treatment along with the medicine were distributed.
Health camps for Chenchus in Amanagiri Mandal of Mahaboobnagar district
Continuing the efforts initiated for the benefit of Chenchu tribes, a team of doctors, nurses, and paramedical staffs with necessary Medicines, visited tribal hamlets located in the river Krishna as islands in Amargiri Mandal on 24-26 February, 10-12 March, and on 24-26, March, 2018. The team had interaction with the tribal population and noted that, the people are afraid of their displacement from the forest and requested development activities at their door step not at other far place from forest. It was evident that, there is lack of health facilities and it has been suggested for having at least thrice a week Boat clinic.
The team visited three villages (Bilakal, Munchintalapalli (Plain Area) and Amaragiri (Core Area)) in March 2018.
As Chenchu tribes live in interior of the forest and they are mainly dependent on traditional way of healing. Dr. Ramakishan Dharmakari had been in constant touch with them and he has brought some change in their health seeking behavior. Now most of the child births are happening at health institutions. About 250 patients were examined distributed with necessary medicines. Young women and girls were provided with vitamins and folic acid for anemia. Women are happier with health camp as they have opportunity to access health services and requested to have weekly health camp. During the camp held on 10-12, March 2018, three villages viz., Errapenta, Srirangapuram and Daravaram new were visited where the Chenchu people stay in clusters of small number in huts made up of bamboo. Rural Development Trust, an NGO working with tribal population had built two room houses and provided with electricity and also solar panels with battery backup.
At Bilakel village visited on March 25, 2018, a total of 50 women and children were screened for various health issues. On March 26, 2018, at Munichintapalli village, a total of 22 people were screened. In the tribal hamlet on the banks of river Krishna a little ahead to the village Munichintapalli, the team had reached had screened 17 people.
The whole two days’ process from Boat ride to till the end of jeep ride has been documented which covered all the important geographical views, meetings with Chenchu tribe group meetings and the way of Chenchu daily life.
Some of the health and life style challenges of Chenchu Tribe
- 1) Loss of control over natural resources made Chenchu tribes more vulnerable in gathering and hunting activities.
- 2) As forests are diminishing and tribes are not allowed in reserve forest , Chenchus are chronically indebted to the money lenders
- 3) Less gathering and shrinking resource of forest products resulted in increased health and nutrition problems especially in women and children.
- 4) Lack of education has alienated the younger generation and there is always discrimination towards tribal population by non-tribal people which prevented their mainstreaming.
- 5) Availability of safe drinking water is a big challenge for the Chenchu tribe.
- 6) Most of the tribal have articulated the concern that "they will die if they come out of forest"