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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 9  |  Page : 4788-4796

Examining tribal health inequalities around three forested sites in India: Results of a cross-sectional survey

1 Tribal Health Resource Centre, Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra, BR Hills, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Columbia University, New York, USA
3 Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Prashanth N Srinivas
3009 Il-A Main, 17th Cross Banashankari 2nd Stage KR Road, Bangalore 560070, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_508_20

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Background: The data available for the health of Scheduled Tribes (ST) in India are often coarse-scale snapshots at district and state levels and fine-scale comparison within and across site is often not possible. In this paper, we examine the health inequalities between the ST and non-ST populations in two forested sites and compare the healthcare parameters for ST populations across three forested sites. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional household survey in three sites in and around three tiger reserves in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Arunachal Pradesh (AP). In each site, multi-stage sampling and cluster analysis provided a representative sample of households across villages of 859 ST and non-ST households. We examined the sociodemographic and health-related information including self-reported illnesses and healthcare utilisation; from these, we explored the within-site health inequality patterns for the two sites and intersite differences among the ST households of the three sites. Results: In Karnataka, the ST and non-ST differences favoured the latter with regard to socio-economic characteristics with no difference in self-reported illness/injuries or healthcare utilisation. In MP, both groups were similar with regard to socio-economic characteristics and healthcare utilisation. AP ST households reported the highest healthcare utilisation, while MP ST households reported the lowest care seeking at hospitals and relied on home networks and health workers. High tobacco consumption was noted among ST groups in all the sites. Conclusions: The ST and non-ST inequality patterns at a fine-scale were different between Karnataka and MP. The absence of health inequalities in MP indicates a uniform socio-geographical disadvantage while poor healthcare utilisation by ST people in Karnataka indicates health inequities. The ST households of AP reported the highest utilisation while those of MP reported the lowest. Programmes addressing the health inequalities of STs need to consider site-specific assessments of socio-geographical and health system factors.

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