Skip to main content

Over 20 per cent of Dalit children are not immunized in rural Gujarat, says EWMI-sponsored study

By Rajiv Shah
A fresh study sponsored by US-based organization, East-West Management Institute (EWMI), in alliance with Gujarat’s human rights NGO, Navsarjan Trust, has found “dramatic differences in the delivery of immunization services between Dalits and non-Dalits.” Carried out among 2,308 children ages 5 and under from 77 villages in eight Gujarat districts in consultation with Dr Dileep Mavalankar of the Public Health Foundation of India, and Dr Ankur Sarin of the Public Systems Group, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, the survey says that 20.4 per cent of Dalit children, age 2-5 years, were unvaccinated for the poliovirus in Gujarat’s rural areas, and this rate was “more than twice as high as non-Dalits in comparable geographic regions.”
Combining rural and urban areas, the report, titled “Blind Spots to the Polio Eradication Endgame: Measuring the Limitations of Polio Vaccination Delivery in Dalit Communities in Gujarat, India”, prepared in January 2013, finds that on the whole 15.8 per cent Dalit missed in polio vaccination campaigns (15.8 per cent), as against non-Dalit children’s 6.0 per cent.
The report comments that this is happening “despite the extensive pulse polio campaign in India”. Things are especially bad in ”traditionally marginalized communities living in hard-to-reach areas… “Although some non-Dalit children are also missed in these remote areas, the very high rate for Dalits raises notice that the endgame of polio eradication is at risk if greater monitoring is not directed at Dalit communities. With 25 million Dalit children age six and under living in India, a 15.8 per cent rate of missed children could extrapolate nationally into nearly four million, a significant roadblock to the goal of polio eradication”, it adds.
The report warns, “The missed vaccination rates for Dalit children present a particularly acute danger because unvaccinated Dalit children generally come from communities with less access to proper nutrition and sanitation, creating weakened immune system response to convert the polio vaccine24, and because some Dalit sub-castes have a higher exposure to activities at risk for transmission of the poliovirus. The Valmiki sub-caste, for example, performs the traditional work of manual scavenging, which includes the removal of human feces by hand…”
It says, “By some estimates, 50,000 Valmiki are currently employed in the manual removal of human waste by quasi-state agencies in Gujarat alone. With the overall population of Valmiki in Gujarat at approximately half a million, those actively employed as manual scavengers represent 10 per cent of the total Valmiki population. With the profession dominated by women, it is estimated that there is one actively employed manual scavenger in as many as half the Valmiki families in Gujarat.”
It adds, “Because Dalits are particularly vulnerable for transmission, the herd immunity protecting Dalit communities is more fragile: this higher transmission risk, coupled with less effective vaccination programmes and monitoring of these programmes, makes outbreaks in the Dalit community more likely. In Gujarat this vulnerability carries heightened significance because Gujarat lies just 100 miles east of Karachi in Pakistan, where that nation’s first case of polio for 2013 was reported in January.”
The study further says that for Dalits and non-Dalits alike, the rates of missed children were significantly higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Carried out in eight districts of Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Gandhinagar, Kheda, Mehsana, Patan, Rajkot and Surendranagar, the study found that in Ahmedabad district, which has a predominantly urban population, two per cent of non-Dalit children in age group 2-5 and 4.8 per cent of Dalit children ages 2-5 had received ≤ 1 OPV dose, whereas the rates of missed children in districts outside of Ahmedabad were 8.4 per cent of non-Dalit children and 20.4 per cent of Dalit children. This, it insists, is due to “several barriers facing rural populations: less access to transportation, information, and education, as well as the residents’ agricultural labor duties, all of which can create interference during pulse polio campaign days.”
Saying that “untouchability practices” contributed “significantly” in a higher rate of missed vaccinations among Dalits over non-Dalits, the study compares vaccination data of the Dalits with that of Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in the rural areas. The premise is: Families from the OBC castes have income levels closer to Dalit families than to non-Dalit families, yet they do not experience untouchability in the way that Dalits do. Based on this similarity in income levels, but dissimilarity in untouchability status, “it was hypothesized that Dalit children would have similar levels of missed vaccination as OBC children if family income were a significant contributing factor to these rural children being missed by the pulse polio campaign”, the report says. 
The survey data suggest that “the rate of missed vaccination by Dalit children far exceeded the rate of OBC children, with the latter missing vaccinations at a rate similar to non-Dalits. “Based on this divergence between income levels and vaccination rates, it can be argued that untouchability has a greater bearing on the likelihood of missed vaccination for the poliovirus than economic status”, the report says.
Coming to the gender disaggregation of unvaccinated children, the study says, “In all caste categories – non-Dalit, OBC and Dalit – girls missed vaccinations at a higher rate than boys in both urban and rural districts.” It adds, “The differences were most significant in non-Dalit and OBC children, although Dalit girls were also missed in vaccinations more often than Dalit boys... 14.4 per cent of Dalit boys went unvaccinated while the rate for girls was 16.4 per cent.“
Saying that there are “several possible explanations for the higher rate of missed vaccinations amongst girls in the study”, the report says, a plausible explanation is that “girls are more likely to be enlisted for assisting their mothers with housework and child care than their male siblings, and this may cause them to be unavailable to attend vaccination days at the polio booths. This explanation is supported by the higher rate of missed vaccinations in older girls (the gender difference was more significant among girls age 3-5 years than girls 2-5 years).”

Comments

vaghelabd said…
Such Data Based Studies Expose BJP and Narendra Modi Fakism on Developments.

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”