Tribal woman, newborn die as relatives decline medical help

A 38-year-old tribal woman belonging to a vulnerable tribal group and her newborn died last week in north Kerala’s Nilambur forests as the woman’s family allegedly did not seek medical help despite advice from health officials, sources said on Tuesday. The incident was reported from Mannala, more than 10 km, deep inside the forest, from Nedumkayam near Karulai in Nilambur. According to official sources, health officials and police came to know about the death of the woman, identified as Nisha, two days later. Nisha, a mother of two, died last Thursday soon after she delivered a baby boy. She would have died of labour related complications, they said. Police said the family did not report the incident to the police or take the woman to a hospital, considering it as natural death.
The woman was buried in the forests by her community people soon after her death.
Health officials reached Mannala on Saturday hearing about the death of Nisha, wife of Mahanan belonging to the Cholanaikkan tribe, categorised as a vulnerable tribal group by the Government of India.
They examined the child who was alive then and with its grandmother. “But two days later, we came to know about the death of the newborn,” a source, aware of the development, told PTI. According to the information, the baby boy died on Saturday night and he was also buried inside the forest, sources said. “The baby was not so weak. The reason for the baby’s death is not known as it was also buried without conducting the autopsy,” they said. Sources said she was approached by health officials last week. The woman was advised to seek medical help after she was examined by a mobile medical team last Wednesday during their routine rounds in the tribal hamlets of Nilambur forests, they said. “The woman was not having an idea whether she was on the last stage of her pregnancy. However, considering the risk involved, we had advised them to reach hospital on Thursday arranging a vehicle.
We also had informed them that the taxi bill will be paid by us.But they did not turn up,” the sources said. Officials said the Cholanaikkan community, one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes of the region, still lack awareness on the importance of institutional delivery and they never bothered to seek medical assistance.