On Thursday, July 15, tribal women from the villages of Bastar's Bakawand Block became the pioneers of the campaign to quash myths and fears in a bid to accelerate vaccinations in the tribal belt.
Simultaneously, the campaign took off in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh, and like in Chhattisgarh, women-led self-help groups (SHGs) that have been instrumental in steering value addition work on non-timber forest produce, will be the torchbearers, bringing the message to Haat Bazaars and the community they work and live in. The population in the Mandla district amounts to approximately 10.5 lakh, with the tribal community accounting for 58 per cent of the total population. In the Bastar district with a projected population of over 9.76 lakh, around 2.73 lakh or 30 per cent comprise the tribal community.
Launching the campaign steered by Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation (TRIFED), in collaboration with UNICEF and WHO, tribal affairs minister Arjun Munda, said, “The outreach will be implemented with the help of traditional village headmen, SHGs, and ground level workers in villages and the Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKs) will be the focal points.”
TRIFED is confident that through various local platforms, the campaign’s message will be able to build awareness on vaccination among nearly 50 lakh tribals and forest dwellers across states. “Besides community outreach through conversations, messages using tribal motifs and dialect will be put up to enhance visibility at common touch points like fertilisers outlet centres, haats and markets and milk collection points. From wall paintings, to pre-recorded messages, milking in haat bazaars to tribal folk music - all this will also be used to send out the message,” an official said.