The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

4281.0: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - Board 8

Abstract #65467

Promoting child health services in tribal India

Archana More Sharma, MPH, School of Public Health, Dept. of Community Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, 213 Calle Miramar #7, Redondo Beach, CA 90277, (310) 378-2676,

High levels of morbidity and mortality are a common reality in India’s tribal communities. To determine factors involved with healthcare utilization among the ‘Warli’ tribe of Maharashtra State, an Indian NGO conducted a qualitative needs assessment. Interviews and focus groups of tribal families, medical and tribal healthcare providers, and community workers were conducted in 15 villages. Findings indicated under-utilization of child health services due to inconvenience, lack of trust, and poor awareness of services. Another salient finding pointed to the role of traditional healers in tribal health practices. Tribal healers were the ‘primary care providers’ for ‘Warli’ families. They placed emphasis on healing rituals, had limited reliance on modern medicine and rarely referred to medical clinics. To address the healthcare of tribal children, the NGO held a seminar highlighting children’s health within the tribal cultural context. Conducted by locally trusted physicians and health workers, the seminar addressed referral to health centers, availability of no-cost medical supplies (e.g. oral rehydration therapy, birth kits), ways to timely assess and treat childhood illnesses, and combining allopathic and herbal medicine. Over 200 tribal healers attended. Evaluations indicated an increase in awareness and support for referrals to medical facilities for 72% of the tribal healers and on-going assistance was requested by 65%. Re-assessment of utilization rates will be conducted in August 2003. Understanding cultural beliefs and practices is essential in bridging health services to tribal communities. Gaining support of traditional healers can provide a critical access point in promoting health services in India’s tribal communities.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: India,

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

International Health Student Poster Session

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA