Many children in Perari village, a tribal hamlet in Chittari hills in Pappireddipatti taluk of Dharmapuri, have been suffering from the thalassemia disease. Owing to poverty and illiteracy, most of the people are unaware about the disease. The Integrated Child Project funded by the United Nation’s Children’s fund (UNICEF) has identified at least 15 children in the region with the disease.
Chittari hills is situated about 60 km from Dharmapuri town. As many as 40 hamlets are situated in the hills and most of them are home to a Malayalee tribal community. Cultivation of raagi and millets are the mainstay of the tribals for sustenance. However, because of the failure of the monsoon over the past two years, the men in the village have migrated to Coimbatore, Kerala and Bangalore to eke out a living.
Most of the children in the village are affected by thalassemia. Due to the disease, the hemoglobin content in their blood cells is very less. This forces the affected people to go in for frequent blood transfusion.
However, since most of the people are illiterate, they don’t know the seriousness of the disease. On the other hand, those who are well informed about the disease are struggling with poverty and thus fail to find a cure for the disease.
The two children of R Poonjolai, who resides in Perari, have been affected with the disease and are receiving treatment in Chennai under the Chief Minister’s expanded medical insurance scheme. Poonjolai told Express, “My two sons Annappan and Arulkumaran are affected with thalassemia. As I am just a daily wage worker in Pollachi, I am unable to afford the cost of treatment with my meagre `4,500 salary. However, now my problem has been mitigated to some extent since my children are getting treatment in Chennai under the Chief Minister’s expanded medical insurance scheme.”
The two children have to go to the Chennai Thalassemia Welfare Association in Taramani once a month for blood transfusion.