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Critical findings on primitive tribal community win high honour for Sankara Nethralaya’s Social Worker

The ‘Social Worker’ plays a key role in any healthcare institution, his contribution in terms of analysing economic, social, cultural and life style factors that contribute to health impairments and the social/economic impact of various health ailments is invaluable to clinicians and researchers. The Social Worker helps in educating and counselling the public at large on the preventive and treatment aspects of diseases and provides useful tips on healthy living. In an ophthalmic institution like Sankara Nehralaya, with a strong societal responsibility, emphasis on research and creating social consciousness the role of the ‘Social Worker’ assumes great importance, he/she acts as a bridge between the target groups in terms of mobilizing and educating volunteers for a research study or those about to undergo comprehensive eye examination in a rural eye camp etc.

Shri G.Venkatesan who serves as a social worker at the ‘ Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology’ at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Institute for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the research arm of Sankara Nethralaya, discharges the above functions effectively and often contributes to studies conducted by the department.

We take great pride that and pleasure in sharing that his recent study and findings of the social, health and occupational aspects of a highly secluded and insulated tribal community living in one of the most remote regions of the country has come for great praise and recognition. Shri Venkatesan’s findings on the above titled “Maternal and Child health among Kurumbas of Nilgris District of Tamil Nadu: A Sociological study” was honoured with a ‘Doctorate in Sociology’ by the University of Madras. Shri Venkatesan was guided and assisted in this major study by Dr.M.Thamilarasan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Madras. The Doctorate was conferred on him by Shri KP.Anbalagan, Honourable Minister for Higher Education, Tamil Nadu in the August presence of  Professor P.Duraisamy, Vice-Chancellor, Madras University and  Shri Sunil Paliwal, IAS, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education, at the 159th annual Convocation held at the University Centenary Auditorium, Chepauk, Chennai on the 15th of July 2017.

While the doctoral submission is exhaustive and voluminous we take pleasure in sharing some glimpses of the same

  • Illiteracy remains the biggest cause of backwardness in the region
  • Reproductive health issues and anaemia is prevalent among women
  • Skin diseases are wide spread among children
  • Drinking water is found to contain toxic substances in many places

On the positive side it could be said that the tribal community is largely self supporting and self sufficient as they produce all the agricultural and meat produce they consume, living in a totally unpolluted environment, covering long distances on mountainous terrain by foot and physical labour keep them in good health. The level of awareness on maternal and child health was also found to be reasonably good, considering the remoteness of the region and most child births happen at home with the help of the local mid-wife, with only complex cases being referred to the local maternity centre. The work of the state/central governments and NGO’s has resulted in a good number of tribal children attending school and the issue of anaemia is being addressed by dispensing of iron supplement to expectant women.

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