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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 132-136

Perception of noncommunicable diseases among the tribals of the Gudalur Valley, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu

1 ASHWINI-Gudalur Adivasi Hospital, The Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Royson Jerome Dsouza
ASHWINI-Gudalur Adivasi Hospital, Kotharvayal, Gudalur, The Nilgiris - 643 212, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cmi.cmi_17_21

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Introduction: Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) pose a significant burden on global health with the increasing prevalence in rural and tribal communities. Although several studies show an alarming trend in adverse outcomes in Indian tribes, there have been only a few reports assessing their perception of NCDs. This study was conducted to address this gap to design better health strategies to reduce the burden of NCDs among the tribal communities. Methodology: This was a hospital-based cross-sectional descriptive study done in Gudalur Adivasi Hospital in The Nilgiris district, Tamil Nadu. The study participants included the five tribal communities belonging to the Particularly Vulnerable Group (formerly Primitive Tribal Group) living in the Gudalur and Pandalur Taluks. After approval from the Ethics committee of the Association for Health Welfare in the Nilgiris (ASHWINI), the data were collected using a predesigned, semi-structured, interviewer-administered questionnaire. The results were entered into an Excel sheet and exported to SPSS software (version 19) for the analysis. Results: The interviewed tribals belonged to the Paniya tribe (54%), Bettakurumba tribe (25%), Moolakurumba tribe (7%), Kattunayakan tribe (6%), and Irula tribe (8%) of whom 43% were illiterate. Seventy-eight percent of the tribals were aware of the presence of NCDs in their community. The most common source of information is ASHWINI and the other health care facilities. The association of unhealthy diet and family history with NCDs was reported by 72% and 25% of the interviewed tribals, respectively. However, the other risk factors like lack of physical activity (7%), old age (2%), and environmental factors (3%) were poorly understood. Similarly, the association between alcohol, tobacco, and NCDs was acknowledged by only 10% and 4% of the interviewed tribals. The importance of screening was understood by 72% of the interviewed tribals. Conclusion: This study showed that there is a severe lack of awareness of NCDs among the tribal population of the Gudalur and Pandalur taluks of the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu. The importance of health promotion in reducing the burden of NCDs is well recognized. There is an urgent need for implementing adequate strategies to correct the knowledge, attitude, and practices of the tribal communities towards NCDs.

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