Tribal Health Initiative

Works towards empowering the tribals to attain the highest possible level of holistic health

  • Bronze Certified 2023
  • FCRA
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  • Headquarters

    Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu

  • Since


Tribal Health Initiative is a collective organisation comprising A Base Hospital (35 beds) providing primary and secondary health care facilities Read moreA pro-active outreach programme of health care, education and awareness raising in the local community. The project is sited in the Sittilingi valley, a reserve forested area surrounded by hills, 92 km from Dharmapuri and 85km from Salem. The Base Hospital caters to a population in a 50km radius. The population who access the low cost hospital is around 80,000 – 1,00,000 people , most of whom are tribals. Good quality care at their doorstep has seen a considerable increase in the number of inpatient admissions and patients now access treatment from the most remote villages. The hospital has 35 beds and a modern Operation Theatre, Labour Room, Neonatal Care, ICU and all investigative facilities like a modern X-ray, Ultrasound, ECHO cardiography, Doppler and endoscopy. On OP days about 200-250 patients visit the hospital per day and inpatient admissions are over 150 per month. The hospital is a referral centre for obstetrics and neonatal care from 4 surrounding PHCs [Primary Health Centres]. The community health program is run in a community of around 15,000 people, 95%of whom are tribals known as Malevasi’s (hill people). Their livelihood is principally from subsistence agriculture, and their access to formal health care is restricted by the difficult terrain, lack of good transport and by the remoteness of the valley.


  • Tribal hospital

    The tribal hospital is a 35-bed unit that admits surgical, medical, and obstetric patients. It serves a population of approximately 100,000 people, of which 80% are tribal communities. The nearest facility offering similar care is located 50 kilometers away, and the hospital provides specialist services at a minimal cost. The team consists of eight full-time doctors, including a surgeon, an anesthesiologist, and two gynecologists.
    The hospital operates a busy 24x7 labour room with a small attached neonatal care unit. The facilities include a High Dependency Unit (HDU) with two ventilator beds, a modern operating theatre complex with three tables, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy offering generic medicines, and facilities for X-rays, ultrasound, and echocardiography. The hospital utilizes solar power for water pumping and street lighting. To ensure safe patient transfers, it has three jeeps, one of which is equipped as an ambulance.

  • Community health

    Field Health Clinics: The hospital team visits each of the 25 villages once a month, providing antenatal checkups, under-5 clinics, and health education. Thanks to these efforts, antenatal checkup rates have significantly improved, reaching up to 95%, while malnutrition rates have decreased by 80%. Infant mortality has dropped significantly.
    Old Age Insurance: Recognizing the growing healthcare needs of elderly citizens, the hospital has introduced an insurance scheme at a cost of Rs. 150 per year. This scheme ensures that all their healthcare requirements are met through a cashless system, both in our hospital and within their villages.
    School Health Program: The organisation has deployed a team of health workers to 14 schools in the Sittilingi valley. They deliver health education and hygiene and sanitation classes to the students, focusing on teaching the future generations about health and well-being, making it a crucial investment in their future.

  • Porgai

    In 2006, Tribal Health Initiative, initiated a conversation about their traditional crafts with Lambadi women. Despite the craft having fallen into disuse, with encouragement and training, 12 women, guided by two experienced seniors who had learned the craft in their childhood, revived it. They named their endeavor "Porgai," which means "pride" in the Lambadi dialect.
    In 2006, the Porgai producer group was established, and it was officially registered as the "Porgai Artisan's Association" in 2011. Currently, around 65 women are members of the Porgai Society. These women, who previously worked as farm laborers with irregular income, have been empowered to provide training to younger Lambadi individuals in the art of Lambadi embroidery.

  • Farming initiative

    After a decade of dedicated work, the organisation conducted an impact assessment that unveiled the financial struggles of local farmers, who were in dire need of support for their primary income source. Recognizing the necessity of addressing health issues holistically, the socio-economic determinants were identified as key aspects to enhance. In response to these concerns, the Tribal Farming Initiative was launched. This initiative encouraged farmers to return to their traditional organic farming practices, aiming to make them self-reliant while promoting soil, water, and local environmental conservation.
    The organisation is proud to support a network of 700 farmers spanning across 30 villages. These farmers are certified organic producers, focusing on crops like millets, as well as valuable cash crops such as turmeric and cotton. What initially started as a society has now evolved into a Farmers Producer Company with 680 shareholders, all of whom are tribals.

  • Watershed initiative

    Apart from land, water stands as the most crucial resource for farmers. Prolonged droughts over the past four years have significantly impacted farming activities, leading to increased migration in search of income and a generally grim outlook for the Valley. Taking inspiration from the various successful approaches employed by the Paani Foundation in Maharashtra, the organisation initiated specific interventions in the region last year, and these have already begun to yield positive results. This effort was made possible through the support of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives by companies, along with the effective utilization of MNREGA funds.
    The interventions included:
    1. Desilting of all existing check dams.
    2. Clearing silt and overgrowth from the traditional canal systems in the villages.
    3. Construction of 'spring stops' at all locations where water naturally flows from the hills during the monsoons.
    4. Excavation of farm ponds

  • Health training

    Health Worker Training: This residential training program spans two years and is exclusively designed for tribal girls who hold a minimum qualification of 10th Std. Upon completion, they receive a certification from BSS, enabling them to seek employment in private hospitals if they choose to do so. Equipped with comprehensive knowledge, they are capable of visiting remote villages to share their expertise on health and provide treatment for minor ailments in the field. Additionally, they actively contribute to the planning and implementation of community health programs.
    Health Auxiliary Training: A group of 25 tribal women, many of whom have limited literacy, are carefully chosen by their respective communities in 21 villages. These dedicated individuals possess a wide range of skills, including the ability to weigh infants, document births and deaths, provide education on nutrition and sanitation, and offer treatment for conditions like diarrhea and respiratory illnesses.

  • Rural sensitization

    Since 2018, the organisation has been hosting four annual camps for young medical students and doctors. With increasing demand, the organisation has expanded the number of centers involved, and they are almost always at full capacity. During these camps, medical professionals spend three days in rural and tribal areas. They visit rural hospitals, engage with local communities, and hold discussions about their experiences and the state of rural health in India. Building on the success of this program, the organisation initiated the Travel Fellowship program for young doctors, which spans one year and currently offers five available seats. Fellowship recipients embark on a nationwide journey, visiting, residing, and learning from rural health organizations, gaining insights into their interventions and principles.

Leadership Team

  • Regi George

    Managing Trustee

  • Vania D’Souza

    Program Associate

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  • Headquarters

    Sittilingi Village,Harur PO Dharmapuri Dist,Tamil Nadu, 636906

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  • 2020-21

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  • 2021-22

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  • 2022-23

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