Many of the villages in the four endemic districts of Jharkhand are hard to reach: there are no transport facilities and generally the distances are covered by walking. People who reside in these mountains are called Paharia sub grouped as; Mal-Paharia, Parhaiya and Sauria-Paharia. Pahariyas mostly depend on hunting, share-cropping as well as shifting cultivation for their livelihood. Most of them also collect and sell firewood and minor forest produce. Mining, deforestation for timber and depletion of habitat has impacted livelihood, disease burden and poverty. The region has high prevalence of Malaria (Plasmodium falciparum), Kala-azar and Malnutrition.
Illustrated below is one such instance in Dumka where the NCIS team carried out IEC/BCC activities.
There is a primary school in the village but it has been locked for over six months and is non-functional. There is not even a general traditional healer in the village for treating illness. Only when there is an absolute emergency, do community members take the initiative of going to a hospital, otherwise herbal cure is their priority. Aasanpani is a village situated on the top of a mountain in Masliya block of Dumka district and has 10 households belonging to Sauria Pahariai caste. The village is far from the vicinity of any accessible road. Generally, it takes more than two hours for community members to travel to the nearest PHC at Masliya. NCIS team members, Rupa and Malay, along with the DPM, Md. Fareejuddin, and members of the monitoring team Neha Kumari and Hussain Khan covered a distance of 5 kms approx. while climbing the mountain to reach Aasanpani.
Since it had a comparatively lesser population, the participation of community members in the IPC session was positive and lively. During the session, a small girl child of about five years was spotted with PKDL symptoms. Her guardian was informed about the possibilities of having PKDL and that she should get herself immediately diagnosed at the PHC.