NEW DELHI: The Centre and the state governments are not paying adequate attention to tribal health, said the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes (NCST) taking cognisance of a recent report that highlights the existing gaps in the health parameters of tribal and non-tribal population.
The report draws attention to estimates published in The Lancet in 2016 in which it shows the life expectancy at birth for ST population in India is 63.9 years against that of 67 years for the general population.
The report also points out that the tribal population in India faces a "triple burden of diseases". Tribal communities are victims of a "disproportionate burden of communicable diseases", including malaria, tuberculosis, skin infections, HIV, typhoid, cholera, among other diseases, the report shows. Also, malnutrition is higher among tribal population than among non-tribal population.
The NCST will ask the Ministry of Health to present the report to the Commission, following which it will come up with a set of recommendations on how to improve the infrastructural facilities for healthcare.
"We are very concerned. It is a matter which deserves attention at the highest level," said Raghav Chandra, secretary, NCST.
The NCST will suggest the Centre ropes in agencies like the World Health Organisation, United Nations Development Programme and World Bank, Asian Development Bank to resolve the existing crisis of tribal health. The Commission also pointed out there is a need for increased coordination between the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the Centre and the state governments to increase monitoring of tribal health.
MoTA secretary Deepak Khandekar said they would comment on the report to which recommendations are agreeable within the next 10 days. "We will not add any fresh recommendation," said Khandekar.
Among its other recommendations, the committee has suggested that a state of tribal health report be published every three years and a composite tribal index health be created to capture the state of tribal health.