Alcohol use and its consequences in South India: Views from a marginalised tribal population
ABSTRACT Alcohol consumption in India is disproportionately higher among poorer and socially marginalised groups, notably Scheduled Tribes (STs). We lack an understanding of STs own views with regard to alcohol, which is important for implementing appropriate interventions.
This study was undertaken with the Paniyas (a previously enslaved ST) in a rural community in Kerala, South India. The study, nested in a participatory poverty and health assessment (PPHA). PPHA aims to enable marginalized groups to define, describe, analyze, and express their own perceptions through a combination of qualitative methods and participatory approaches (e.g. participatory mapping and ranking exercises). We worked with 5 Paniya colonies between January and June 2008.
Alcohol is viewed as a problem among the Paniyas who reported that consumption is increasing, notably among younger men. Alcohol is easily available in licensed shops and is produced illicitly in some colonies. There is evidence that local employers are using alcohol to attract Paniyas for work. Male alcohol consumption is associated with a range of social and economic consequences that are rooted in historical oppression and social discrimination.
Future research should examine the views of alcohol use among a variety of marginalised groups in developing countries and the different policy options available for these populations. In addition, there is a need for studies that untangle the potential linkages between both historical and current exploitation of marginalized populations and alcohol use.
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ABSTRACT: Résumé Contexte Les populations pauvres et marginalisées des pays à revenu faible ou intermédiaire voient leur santé contrainte par un engagement public souvent insuffisant. Bien qu'il soit reconu pour ses politiques progressives, l'État du Kérala, dans le sud de l'Inde, ne fait pas exception. Le bien-être des femmes de-meure contraint par les inégalités de genre . Du fait de leur marginalisation, plusieurs groupes autochtones sont au re-gard de leur santé, en position très défavorable comparative-ment aux autres groupes sociaux.
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ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Inadequate public action in vulnerable communities is a major constraint for the health of poor and marginalized groups in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The south Indian state of Kerala, known for relatively equitable provision of public resources, is no exception to the marginalization of vulnerable communities. In Kerala, women's lives are constrained by gender-based inequalities and certain indigenous groups are marginalized such that their health and welfare lag behind other social groups. THE RESEARCH: The goal of this socially-engaged, action-research initiative was to reduce social inequalities in access to health care in a rural community. Specific objectives were: 1) design and implement a community-based health insurance scheme to reduce financial barriers to health care, 2) strengthen local governance in monitoring and evidence-based decision-making, and 3) develop an evidence base for appropriate health interventions. RESULTS AND OUTCOMES: Health and social inequities have been masked by Kerala's overall progress. Key findings illustrated large inequalities between different social groups. Particularly disadvantaged are lower-caste women and Paniyas (a marginalized indigenous group), for whom inequalities exist across education, employment status, landholdings, and health. The most vulnerable populations are the least likely to receive state support, which has broader implications for the entire country. A community based health solidarity scheme (SNEHA), under the leadership of local women, was developed and implemented yielding some benefits to health equity in the community-although inclusion of the Paniyas has been a challenge. THE PARTNERSHIP: The Canadian-Indian action research team has worked collaboratively for over a decade. An initial focus on surveys and data analysis has transformed into a focus on socially engaged, participatory action research. CHALLENGES AND SUCCESSES: Adapting to unanticipated external forces, maintaining a strong team in the rural village, retaining human resources capable of analyzing the data, and encouraging Paniya participation in the health insurance scheme were challenges. Successes were at least partially enabled by the length of the funding (this was a two-phase project over an eight year period).BMC International Health and Human Rights 11/2011; 11 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S3. DOI:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S2-S3 · 1.44 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The objective of this study is to investigate the magnitude and nature of health inequalities between indigenous (Scheduled Tribes) and non-indigenous populations, as well as between different indigenous groups, in a rural district of Kerala State, India. A health survey was carried out in a rural community (N = 1660 men and women, 18-96 years). Age- and sex-standardised prevalence of underweight (BMI < 18.5 kg/m2), anaemia, goitre, suspected tuberculosis and hypertension was compared across forward castes, other backward classes and tribal populations. Multi-level weighted logistic regression models were used to estimate the predicted prevalence of morbidity for each age and social group. A Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition was used to further explore the health gap between tribes and non-tribes, and between subgroups of tribes. Social stratification remains a strong determinant of health in the progressive social policy environment of Kerala. The tribal groups are bearing a higher burden of underweight (46.1 vs. 24.3%), anaemia (9.9 vs. 3.5%) and goitre (8.5 vs. 3.6%) compared to non-tribes, but have similar levels of tuberculosis (21.4 vs. 20.4%) and hypertension (23.5 vs. 20.1%). Significant health inequalities also exist within tribal populations; the Paniya have higher levels of underweight (54.8 vs. 40.7%) and anaemia (17.2 vs. 5.7%) than other Scheduled Tribes. The social gradient in health is evident in each age group, with the exception of hypertension. The predicted prevalence of underweight is 31 and 13 percentage points higher for Paniya and other Scheduled Tribe members, respectively, compared to Forward Caste members 18-30 y (27.1%). Higher hypertension is only evident among Paniya adults 18-30 y (10 percentage points higher than Forward Caste adults of the same age group (5.4%)). The decomposition analysis shows that poverty and other determinants of health only explain 51% and 42% of the health gap between tribes and non-tribes for underweight and goitre, respectively. Policies and programmes designed to benefit the Scheduled Tribes need to promote their well-being in general but also target the specific needs of the most vulnerable indigenous groups. There is a need to enhance the capacity of the disadvantaged to equally take advantage of health opportunities.BMC Public Health 05/2012; 12(1):390. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-12-390 · 2.32 Impact Factor