Tribals deprived of access to benefits of tech and health services: Vardhan

New Delhi, Dec 10 (Agency) Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday expressed concern that tribals had been deprived of access to benefits of significant advancements in science, technology as well as public health services. Speaking at the virtual curtain raiser ceremony by ICMR-National Institute of Research in Tribal Health, Jabalpur as a part of 6th India International Science Festival 2020, he said “Often residing in hard to reach areas with difficult terrains, our tribal population has had inequitable access to benefits of our significant advancements in science, technology as well as public health services.”

The tribals, he noted, represent a unique and colourful segment of the Indian culture. “Our tribals lead a lifestyle with beliefs, customs, values and traditions that are in sync with nature,” and expressed happiness that the ICMR-NIRTH, Jabalpur was an institute wholly dedicated to biomedical research on health and social issues related to the tribal population. Referring to the lifestyle pattern of the tribals, he said while having enhanced immunity against various diseases, what was a matter of concern was that our tribal population today “suffers from a high prevalence of malnutrition, genetic disorders and infectious diseases.” Dr Vardhan emphasised that the health and well-being of the tribal population was of utmost importance to the government. “We have been taking a slew of measures in this regard. In 2018, an expert committee constituted jointly by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Tribal Affairs, identified 10 major concerns that need immediate attention for the wellbeing of tribes and started working towards it,” he added.

The Minister congratulated ICMR for its extraordinary contribution in bio-medical research. Applauding ICMR-NIRTH, Jabalpur for developing indigenous strategies for strengthening the health services in the unreached areas, he noted, “ICMR-NIRTH has successfully demonstrated PPP models for reduction of tuberculosis among Saharia tribes and reduction in cases of malaria in the tribal district of Mandla in Madhya Pradesh. This prestigious institution has developed strategies for controlling prevalence of fluoride, anaemia and inherited hemoglobinopathies like sickle-cell disease among tribal populations.” The experience learnt in all these efforts will be of immense help not only for researchers and academicians but also for policy makers for improving health of the marginalised sections of our population, he added. Dr Vardhan invited everyone to participate in IISF-2020 which is going to be held virtually from December 22 to 25, 2020.