Another infant dies of malnutrition in Attappady

A month after the Union government announced a Rs 125 crore special package for the Attappady tribal belt in Palakkad, another infant has died due to malnutrition in the region.

Murukan and Girija’s one-month-old girl child died at the Thrissur Medical College Hospital on Friday.

Sources said the pre-term baby weighed around one kg. A total of 53 tribal infants have died in the region in about 18 months.

Paloor is one of the 20 tribal hamlets in the region in focus for infant deaths.

The Attappady region has been battling starvation, dismal healthcare and infant deaths for years.

The Kottathara tribal speciality hospital, with its limited resources, has not been able to deal with the crisis and cases–involving infants and adults–are often referred to hospitals in other districts.

Projects and measures that address issues of erratic deployment of welfare funds and grossly inadequate healthcare facilities have proposed to reverse the region’s fortunes but relief is yet to surface.

Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had visited Attappady in early June when the minister announced a package that focused on cultivation on tribal land and empowerment of tribal women.

Tribal activists in the region have repeatedly called for government initiatives that ensure recovery of alienated tribal land they believe was a trigger to Attappady’s development.

The leader of the opposition V S Achuthanandan, after a recent visit to Attappady, had slammed the government over failed promises made to revitalise the region. The promises and calls of concern, however, have not moved much beyond political rhetoric.

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