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What the people say

7 May 2008, 15:51

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Kidney disease and anaemia are the main complaints voiced by patients.

In rural Goa people have to contend with both non-communicable diseases along with the older communicable illnesses. When asked for what they considered to be their main health problem, residents of Barceim village in Quepem taluka [administrative area] said it is kidney failure. The village has a large number of women in the age group of 30-50 suffering from this problem. They also said that women suffered from an excessive loss of menstrual blood. Other illnesses related to jaundice and fever.

The complaint of kidney problems appears to be a serious issue in Quepem and neighbouring Canacona taluka. While some doctors said it is likely to be linked with the low levels of ground water and its metal contamination, the issue does not seem to have impinged on the state authorities so far. Kidney disease has a crippling economic impact on the patient and their families.

The excessive loss of menstrual blood amongst women in Barceim may relate to the high levels of anaemia. The villagers however suspected the excessive blood loss is related to women’s kidney problems.

Dattaram Desai, a private GP in Savorverem, Ponda taluka, said common ailments treated in his GP practice relate to throat and chest respiratory infections, worms in children, tuberculosis and anaemia in women. “Food habits of people in rural Goa are not good”, he said. “They do not know what food is nutritionally rich or that their diet lacks iron and vitamins. Women suffer from anaemia because she is the last to eat – after feeding children and the men folk. In addition to her work for the family she augments the family income through her work in the fields. She is the most suffering person and her anaemia gives rise to a number of infections”, he said.

That the problem of anaemia is widespread amongst Goan women came up repeatedly during the course of enquiries. The average haemoglobin level of the Goan woman is 8 gm/dl [compared to a ‘normal’ haemoglobin value for Indian women of 12 -16 gm/dl], says Raj Vaidya, a pharmacist at Hindu Pharmacy in Goa’s capital, Panjim, and a secretary of the Goa branch of India’s Voluntary Health Association.

>by Rupa Chinai

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