Teenage childbearing is higher among scheduled tribe women age 15-19 years (11%) than the other three caste/tribe groups. Scheduled tribe women (59%) are less likely to receive a postnatal check within two days than women from any other caste/tribe group (64-69%).

An autonomous association was observed between mortality and social caste, with STs having significantly higher odds of mortality as compared to the other caste. Scheduled castes tend to have higher odds of mortality as compared to the wealthier caste. Differences in gender were also observed as men more likely to die than the women. Grouping based on religion and also based on residences based on urban and rural was not related to the mortality.

The under-five mortality rate for scheduled castes (56 deaths per 1,000 live births), scheduled tribes (57 deaths per 1,000 live births), and other backward classes (51 deaths per 1,000 live births) are considerably higher than for those who are not from scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, or other backward classes (39 deaths per 1,000 live births).

Improve access to care by scaling-up medical camps:

ST face important barriers to health care, including geographical barriers (STs tend to live in rural, often harsh environments, with poor transport linkage enabling access to care), economic barriers (limited budgets to pay for care), and socio-cultural barriers (health care providers working in conventional biomedical settings tend to have inadequate understanding of ST health needs, views on health and care, and ST culture). While there is a need for multiple approaches to improving health care and access to care for STs, including building towards universal health care for all Indians (the Lancet 2011), complementary strategies specific for STs are still needed. One strategy, is to scale-up and invest more in medical (or health) camps, which are currently being offered across India. For example, in Kerala there are 13 ST Mobile Medical units conducting around 20 medical camps each month, operating in remote areas where there are significant ST settlements.

Adopt social determinants of health lens

Increased action on the social determinants of health (SDH), which are the conditions in which people live and work, influencing their opportunities to be in good health, will contribute to improving health equity in general (CSDH 2008) and reducing the gap between STs and non STs in particular. Key SDH that are often advanced by experts in SDH as a way to reduce inequities, include income, education and employment (c.f. Marmot 2007). Additional SDH have been advocated with respect to indigenous populations, such as culture, land and indigenous views on health and healing (Gracey and King 2009, King et al., 2009). While there has been important scholarship and some policy attention paid to a range of SDH relevant for STs, including land, poverty, education, gender, culture, identity, and political representativeness, there has been inadequate attention paid to how these various issues operate individually and jointly to influence the health of ST populations.

While there is an increasing body of research highlighting the high burden of health needs faced by STs, we continue to lag in developing a solid evidence base in how to improve the health of STs. There are currently programs already in place, such as medical camps, yet we have little knowledge to the extent that these camps are effective and potential options to improve or build upon these camps to meet the health needs of ST communities. And although there are a range of factors that are affecting ST health, there has been little research on the social determinants of health.

AIM recommends undertaking evaluative research on medical camps to understand the extent that they are able to effectively target and meet the needs of STs. Such work could identify how medical camps might be scaled-up and better adapted to service the diverse ST communities across the country. Second, there should be efforts to undertake a body of work on the social determinants of ST health, including both theoretical and empirical studies. This work should include an analysis of the full range of social determinants of health, as well as intervention and policy options. Any research that is undertaken, however, should be pursued adopting the highest ethical standards possible and integrating STs views and priorities into both the research and policy process.

  • Scheduled tribes don’t have the regular drinking water supply. They are inhabited of using the water, which is collected in small ditches. This proves hazardous to their health.
  • Health of a person depends upon the quality of the food and on the other hand tribes cannot afford sufficient and balanced diet as they suffer from poverty.
  • Tribal community is working hard but they do not earn sufficient and they cannot get enough food and therefore they take alcohol. This cause an unfavorable effect on their health.
  • Due to malnutrition they often become victims of Tuberculosis, skin diseases, typhoid etc. They are also not availing health facilities from governmental health programs and services.
  • Very less attention has been given to the environmental aspects. River pollution, contaminated tanks and wells are also responsible for occurrence of several diseases in this community.


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