Newborn care among Bhil Tribe of Madhya Pradesh, India

Ravendra K. Sharma, Regional Medical Research Centre for Tribals (ICMR), India
Kalyan B. Saha, Regional Medical Research Centre for Tribals (ICMR), India
Dinesh Kumar, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)
Surendra Kumar, Regional Medical Research Centre for Tribals (ICMR), India

Tribal population is one of the most socially and economically deprived section of Indian communities. Maternal and child health studies among tribal population have been remained largely neglected. So far, only few attempts have been made to study the newborn care in Madhya Pradesh state, and especially among Bhil Tribe - the largest tribe of the state. The broad objective of the study was to understand the different practices followed by Bhils related to newborn care. The target population for this study was a recently delivered woman (RDW) aged 15-49 years and who delivered a live birth during last two years. A sample of 1046 RDWs was interviewed from 60 villages selected through PPS sampling in Dhar district during Jan. 2008 – Dec. 2009. About 62% deliveries were institutional deliveries, mainly conducted at government health centres. Most of the babies were given first bath on the same day. Many of them were not wrapped and dried till the delivery of placenta. The use of prelactal is very common (90%) in the community and gur pani (sugar water) is most commonly used prelactal. About 60% babies were put to the mother’s breast first time after three days of birth. The fever and diarrhoea are most frequently reported morbidities among newborn. Only 42% babies received any check-up or visited by health worker during first month of delivery.The study revealed that the proportion of institutional deliveries has improved among tribal communities because of monetary incentives provided through Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY). However, medically acceptable newborn practices, such as early drying and wrapping of child, early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding are not in practice among Bhils. The study shows an urgent need of IEC intervention among the Bhil tribe related to maternal and child health care practices.

Presented in Poster Session 1