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Poor Health Practices Plague Rajasthan Tribal Women

Women in Rajasthan's tribal areas still consider home to be the safest place for deliveries, are afraid of using contraceptives and don't get their children immunised.

The Gandhi Manav Kalyan Society, an NGO that works in tribal regions of Udaipur district, conducted the study of the reproductive health of over 315 women in Jhadol and Kotra blocks. The study revealed the poor level of health care among women in the region. According to the findings, around 94 percent of pregnant women deliver their children at home with the help of unskilled midwives.

"There is a common myth that home is the safest place to conduct deliveries. Skilled health professionals handled only 6 percent of deliveries last year," the NGO said in its report.

Gharasiya and Bheel are the main tribes of the region. Only 3 percent women of these tribes use modern methods of contraception and around 15 percent firmly believe in using traditional methods for avoiding pregnancy.

The study revealed that the main reason behind this was lack of easy availability of modern contraceptives, traditional myths and misconception, fear of side effects and opposition by husband and other family members, especially mother in laws.

The study said that almost all the mothers interviewed had either lost or mishandled the immunisation cards of their children. They didn't even know which vaccines their children received and when.

Only 5 percent children have received all the vaccines in these villages. According to the NGO, the core reason behind this is that people have many misconceptions about immunisation.

The traditional health care system of the region also does not allow early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding for six months, which is compulsory for overall growth of the infant.

The rate of early initiation of breastfeeding is as low as 15 percent in the tribal areas. Around 8 0 percent mothers do not give first breast milk to newly born infants.

Their traditional belief is that first breast milk or colostrum causes indigestion problems in infants. Instead, the tribal people prefer to give goat's milk to newborn infants for three to five days.


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