About Attappady

Attappady is a backward revenue block of Palakkad district of Kerala state. It has  an area of 745 sq.km and encompasses three panchayatsAgali, Pudur and Sholayur. It has a population of 66,171(2001 Census).Tribes form almost half of the population (27,121) and are represented in three sects called Irula, Muduga and Kurumba. They live in hamlets in and around the hills of Attappady. There are 188 such tribal hamlets.

The non-tribal population comprises of settlers from Kerala and Tamilnadu.  Both the tribes and non tribes pursue agriculture as their means of living. They cultivate a wide variety of crops from spices to pulses and vegetables. The earnings from agriculture are inconsistent, due to the vagaries of nature like drought, flash floods, heavy winds and devastation by wild animals.

The tribes engage in paid labour because a bulk of their land holdings is not cultivable. Those living in the remote villages get very less work (about 10 man days per month) compared to those near the central areas. Government schemes like NREGA and a government project called Attappady Wasteland Comprehensive Environment Conservation Project implemented by Attappady Hills Area Development Society (AHADS) have marginally improved their employment opportunities and earnings.

The traditional tribal life is rich with a strong community bonding, family networks and sense of social responsibility. Dance, music and festivals are inherent components of tribal culture here. The interaction with the modern world has led to erosion of many of these virtues which have exposed the tribes to many hazards including mental illness.

Though Kerala has a high literacy and high standards of public health, people of Attappady remain very backward on both counts, especially the tribal population. The literacy rate is less than 50% and school dropout rates are high. Literacy and education among girls is also very low.

Health Scenario In Attappady

The health indicators of Attappady remain backward compared to state and national averages. The maternal mortality rate (7/1000 compared to state 1.3/1000) and infant mortality rates (66/1000 compared to state 14.1/1000) are very high. Institutional deliveries have remained low resulting in poor maternal and neonatal outcomes. High incidence of severe maternal anaemia, obstetric complications, deliveries by untrained persons all contribute heavily to this situation.

The poor living conditions, extremes of weather, poverty, lack of sanitation and poor awareness about illnesses, together present a bleak prospect for the health of the people of Attappady. Anaemia, malnutrition, deficiency disorders, infections like tuberculosis, typhoid fever and diarrhoeal diseases are rampant in this area. A large number of  persons is  affected by a genetic disorder called sickle cell anaemia, which has a devastating effect on their health and quality of life.

Mental illness is very common in the tribal population.A survey conducted by our organisation in 2010 found out about 300 cases of persons with Severe Mental illnesses like Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder etc. Several cases of anxiety disorders, depression, visit our OPD regularly. There are more than 100 cases of suicides of tribal persons every year.Dependence on Alcohol is wide spread along with abuse other substances.

Infertility is a very common problem in the native population. Rheumatic heart disease has high incidence because of crowded living, poor prophylaxis and lack of follow up with specialty care.

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