IndianIndian Medical Camps
India is a highly caste-based society and for Dalit people, previously known as 'untouchables', this usually means living in poverty and being discriminated against their whole lives. The caste system determines the job that you do, as it determined the job that your parents did and it will do your children’s as well. One of the most disadvantaged communities among the Dalits are the Manual Scavengers. In the State of Karnataka in southern India, approximately 300,000 people employed as Manual Scavengers by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), in both rural and urban areas, as sweepers, sanitation cleaning workers and cleaners of open drainages and open defecation areas. They work in such places as hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, lodges, resorts, school and colleges.
Manual Scavengers spend their lives working in closed drains and toilets, removing human waste and sewage. Besides being illegal and against human rights, it is also highly dangerous; the death rate is high and life expectancy low, at around 45-50. Most people work long hours without any safety equipment for minimum wages. They have no health care or social security. 50% of the sweepers are women, aged between 14 and 50 years old. For the most part, women earn less than men despite the fact that they generally work longer hours. The most dangerous working environments are urban and peri urban areas, where loss of limbs or death occur frequently. It is also very common for Manual Scavengers to have very serious health issues such as skin diseases, respiratory issues, liver and abdomen problems, coughs, TB, fever, chronic body pain, gynecological problems, anemia, malnutrition and other health problems. In terms of social problem, there are trends of alcohol addiction among adults and very low levels of schools attendance among children. Children generally leave school young and start work, perpetuating the cycle of caste discrimination and poverty.
Thamate is a community based organisation that has been working with manual scavengers since 1996. Thamate’s aim is to eradicate manual scavenging practice. They work on the ground in the Tumkur district of Karnataka and also are involved in state level and national advocacy.
Basic Foundations funded a free medical camp in Madugiri for manual scavengers. Thamate worked with medical contacts and local hospitals to arrange the camps. They mobilised support from specialist doctors from Bangalore. During the day, seven specialist doctors conducted medical examinations on around 150 sweepers and their dependents, in total up to 450 adults and children were screened. Any illnesses or conditions that were identified that needed follow up, will be followed and referred by Thamate.
And some more photos of the Indian Medical Camps.