Access to tribal villages starts to ease – health protection is now needed

It has been nearly impossible in the past weeks to get access to tribal villages in the area around Anaikatti, close to Coimbatore in South India. The fear that the virus could affect tribal people has been very high, and the protection measurements, therefore, very severe.

The missing accessibility to the villages also had a lot of negative consequences not just on the people's mental health status, but also economically. The informal job sector had totally stopped. People could not travel to the next towns and cities.

While using a digital connection to stay in contact with the villages and share some information, the situation changes.

"We are going to start the distribution of masks and soaps to the villages, as the Government eases the lockdown," our NGO partner says.

"Besides, we have developed a poster in Tamil for our Making More Health Covid-19 Women project for village women. We will put it in important strategic points like bus stand, check posts, villages, city traffic signal points, etc. to create awareness of Corona virus prevention."

With the ease now, the need to make sure that all have masks and wear it, keep the right hygiene standards, and make sure that the distance keeping will work is essential.

And there is a lot more to do…

The overall situation in Tribal communities

Health experts working with tribal communities are pointing out that testing and monitoring the disease remains insufficient and mostly limited to urban areas. Providing testing facilities in tribal areas is a major challenge but must be done. Also, the ongoing health checks on NCDs e.g. is less possible than before. Alongside, livelihood and food security needs of the country's most vulnerable must be kept in mind.

In Anaikatti, we all are working together to hopefully defend the villages from worsening the overall health status due to Covid19:

The local soap production and ongoing soap distribution by tribal Selfhelp groups themselves, the Making More Health hygiene and health training sessions that happened in the past, the infrastructural support that has been set up, the several awareness programs by our local NGO partner, the care given by the tribal hospital … it is much more than what is offered in many other tribal areas in India.

Let's hope that all this is enough to overcome the crises in the next months.