Mother and Son’s Struggle to Fight against TB and Malnutrition
Girja Adivasi, 18, resides with her mother in Mehra village of Pohari block of Shivpuri district. She was barely 14-year-old when she got married to Darshan Adivasi of Bilwara village of the same block. Darshan’s family was a joint family, apart from his parents his elder brother’s family used to also live together.
Immediately, after the wedding Girja realized her husband is alcohol addict which made her life hell. She had to face domestic violence almost everyday. Girja’s sister-in-law was a TB patient. As she used to spend most of her time with her, Girja also started suffering from cough after a couple of months. To get herself treated for the illness, Girja went to her mother’s place and started taking treatment from a private practitioner.
Though, she got relief from cough for a month but it revived again. This time Girja changed the doctor but he could also provide temporary relief from the illness. When Girja was struggling with her own health, she conceived her first child. Girja’s name was not registered with Anganwadi centre of her mother’s village which deprived her from immunization during pregnancy neither she underwent antenatal check up even once.
Girja delivered her first child an year ago at her mother’s residence only. A few untrained women of the village which included her mother as well conducted her delivery. Most of the deliveries in this village are performed by these women only. Girja delivered an extremely weak baby boy. The newborn was fed with jaggery water and cow’s milk for 3 days instead of breast milk. Girja was also fed with jaggery syrup for 3 days. The newborn received breast milk and Girja received proper diet only after that.
Neither Girja’s name nor her newborn’s name was registered with the Anganwadi centre as it was considered that they belong to other village. This deprived even her son from immunization.
Meanwhile, Girja was constantly getting weak because of TB. Her mother used to take her to different private doctors for treatment but all the treatments were providing temporary relief. Her mother used to collect forest products and sell it in the market to earn some money to get her daughter treated. She had spent more than Rs 20,000 on the treatment of her daughter which is a huge amount for a financially backward family.
Not only Girja but her son Raj’s condition was also deteriorating. A community worker came to know about Raj’s health. When the worker visited Girja and Raj he was shocked and extremely concerned about their condition. He immediately got the newborn admitted in Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC). He was barely of 5.7 kgs during admission. Raj underwent treatment at NRC for 14 days.
However, on the other hand Girja’s condition was getting critical. Interestingly, one of the traditional healers to whom Girja’s mother took her for treatment suggested them to go to government hospital as she might be suffering from TB. On his suggestion they went to Community Health Centre of Pohari and get all the tests done. Her reports revealed that she was suffering from TB and for last 2 months she is taking medication for it. The treatment has provided her slight relief.
Poverty compels people to work even if their health is in pathetic state. Girja still works as a labourer at fields to earn some money to feed her son. Though, TB has decreased her capacity of physical activity because of which she has to skip work many a times.
In wake of Girja’s financial condition and health, community worker also initiated to get her registered with government run scheme through which now gets Rs 500 a month as a pension for nutritious food.
Girja had to suffer a lot at a very young age. Her alcoholic husband and his domestic violence had already given scars to her. On the other side she is struggling with TB and is also fighting for the survival of malnourished child. Timely intervention of community worker and proper treatment at NRC has helped Raj from jumping to moderately malnourished category. Also, now Raj is registered with an Anganwadi centre and gets all the benefits.
Pix for representation