24.05.2012: Bihar: a state in distress
India is a huge country with 28 states, each comparable to individual nations. Bihar state has a population 1.5 times that of the UK and is poorer than Sierra Leone, a country considered to be one of the world’s most deprived.
According to a new international measure of poverty, called the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), 421 million people live in poverty across eight Indian states including Bihar. This is 11 million more people than in the 26 poorest African countries combined.
For eight out of 10 of people in Bihar this means a life of unsanitary living conditions and increased risks to health, particularly for children. There is little or no education, and no access to toilet facilities or electricity. At home, floors are made of dung or mud, and people have very few possessions.
In Bihar we find :
- The highest incidence of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in India including:
- Leprosy:a disease caused by a bacteria that leads to neurological damage, disfigurement and disability
- Lymphatic filariasis: characterised by huge swelling to legs and genitals through internal damage caused by worms. Damage to kidneys can be life-limiting. Transmitted by mosquitoes.
- 80 per cent of India’s kala-azar cases (kala-azar is a potentially fatal disease spread by sandflies).
- The average distance people travel for medical help is 62 miles
- Where one primary health centre should cater to 30,000 people, those in Bihar cover 100,000.
LEPRA India is the only non-government organisation spearheading work on community health or the prevention and control of NTDs in Bihar.
Dr Raman of the Bihar State Health Society told us in an interview that one in two medical posts are vacant here because doctors and other medical professionals do not want to be posted in areas without education for their children, basic sanitation facilities or electricity.
An astonishing 25 out of 38 District Leprosy Officer posts are vacant and there is only one reconstructive surgery centre for the state in Patna – the state capital. This in a state that despite it’s lack of health care infrastructure still has the highest number of new leprosy cases diagnosed each year.
The poor state of public health facilities in Bihar has led to a substantial increase in the demand for LEPRA’s services, resulting in greater pressure on its limited resources. LEPRA is dedicated to improving the health of people in Bihar through providing services in leprosy and LF, and running village health programmes so that help is closer than 62 miles away.
Life in Bihar is hard. You can make it easier.
Posted by admin 16:37 24.05.2012
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“If nothing had been done by LEPRA I would have died.”