Death and superstition stalk 'cursed’ tribal hamlet in Andhra

Three deaths on a single day creates panic in the village; nearest PHC 15 km away, sick carried in cloth stretchers

Published: 28th June 2017 02:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th June 2017 11:23 AM   |  A+A-

File photo of a doctor treating tribals in Chaparai village in East Godavari district in which several tribals dide due to food poisining. | Express Photo Service

Express News Service

RAMPACHODAVARAM : “We spend our nights praying to God that we don’t wake up to another death. For a month now, our men have been carrying bodies to burial ground almost every day. In the second week of this month, a family in our village saw three deaths on a single day,” said M Manamma, a resident of Chaparai village in Boddangi Panchayat, who is being treated at Government Hospital, Rampachodavaram.

It all began on June 2, recall villagers, when 30-year-old Boramma fell ill. She had severe fever, was unable to eat food and was dehydrated. A day later, two more fell ill. In five days, the death toll began to rise and panic spread. Despite people dying and more falling ill, none of the locals approached a doctor, choosing instead to stick to their own herbal medicines.

Boddangi Panchayat Sarpanch Marigela Narsamma said a few villagers wanted to meet a doctor, but superstitious villagers cautioned them.

“A 60-year-old person died in the village due to same symptoms. Then a few villagers spread rumours that the man came to them in their dream and warned not to speak about the disease to others or the whole community would perish. Fear took hold of them and people began to think twice before stepping out of their homes,” the Sarpanch said.

Chaparai village, located in the interiors of East Godavari, is home to 380 people. The villagers live off the water from streams as there is no drinking water facility in the hamlet. Officials, however, claim there are several borewells in the region. Sources said the villagers, unaware of the importance of good hygiene and safety, hardly ever boil water and store food for four to five days. Due to the rains, mosquitoes have begun to breed in stagnant water in the hamlet.

“Not just potable water, medicines, roads, education, electricity and other minimum basic needs are far removed from our lives. We have brought theses issues to the notice of the government, but it is only now, after the deaths that officials have reacted,” said Narsamma, The PHC nearest to Chaparai is in Gurthedu, which is approximately 15km away.

“We have to travel 30 km to reach the closest centre in Mangampadu,” a tribal said.“Every month, we go to ration depot in Boddangi by travelling 6 km on foot. The ration which arrives at  Kadirikota is later shifted to Boddangi as the road connectivity is poor,” he said. 

Not just potable water, medicines, roads, education, electricity and other minimum basic needs are far removed from our lives. It is only now, after the deaths that officials have reacted Chaparai resident.

As the doctors did not show interest to work in agency areas, we have decided to implement a rotation system for them. The doctors will have to work there for at least 45 days then Health Minister.


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