Traditional Child Healthcare Practices among the Tribals: An Explorative study - Abstract
Plateaued rate of decline in neonatal mortality rate is one of the major obstacles in achieving Millennium Development Goal-4 especially in developing countries. Even in India, nationwide interventions targeting safe mother and newborn care have not yielded the desired impact, indicating the necessity to combat neonatal mortality rate at population specific level. The objective of this study, in tribal area, is to identify the newborn care practices and beliefs, analyze their harmful or beneficial characteristics, describe the deviations from the essential newborn care practices during institutional and home delivery, explain barriers to care seeking and identify areas of potential resistance for behavior change; and essential newborn care practicesamong the eight different tribal communities. The study uses both qualitative and quantitative data from in-depth interview with mothers who had experienced neonatal and natal death, women who had done home delivery and key-informant interviews with healthcare personnel, traditional healers and the birth attendants. The study was conducted in eight groups of tribal communities and covered 400 households, which was consist 50 households from the each eight different communities, were purposively selected fromsixth number of panchayat in one block of Sundargarh district of Odisha, India. Key finding of this study is the less prevalent of modern health care practices of essential newborn care among all cases irrespective of place of delivery, majority of the mothers are practicing traditional herbal medico-system in child health care. Clustering of deaths in few households added significantly to the existing burden of neonatal deaths, attributed to superstition by tribal. Study has concluded that the introduction and implementation of essential newborn care at institutional and community/ household level are the need of the hour. Quality home based neonatal care through cost effective interventions is deemed necessary where accessing institutional care is not possible in the immediate term. Community health workers can contribute to the eradication of harmful newborn care practices and the sustenance of essential practices through community education and behavior change communication.