Personal tools
You are here: Home Archives Hunger Alerts 2009 Hunger Alerts UPDATE (India): Call for more attention for hand-loom weavers suffering from hunger and Tuberculosis in Varanasi
Navigation
 

UPDATE (India): Call for more attention for hand-loom weavers suffering from hunger and Tuberculosis in Varanasi

The AHRC has been reporting the extreme poverty and TB which are endemic with handloom weavers living in Lohta of Varanasi District since 2007.

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME

Hunger Alert Update: AHRC-HAU-001-2009

30 January 2009

[RE: HU-005-2007: INDIA: A handloom weaver suffering from tuberculosis and poverty for 22 years]
---------------------------------------------------------------------
INDIA: Call for more attention for hand-loom weavers suffering from hunger and Tuberculosis in Varanasi

ISSUES: Right to health; extreme poverty; government neglect
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has recently received information that a handloom weaver living in the Lohta area suffers from Tuberculosis (TB). Lohta located in the Varanasi district has been dominantly occupied by handloom weavers who suffer from poverty and TB as their industry declines. The AHRC has continuously reported the weavers' extreme poverty. This aggravates their health situation due to infection with TB, particularly in Lohta. The local government has not taken any substantial action in this area, while reporting a reduction in the number of TB cases.

UPDATED INFORMATION:

The AHRC has been reporting the extreme poverty and TB which are endemic with handloom weavers living in Lohta of Varanasi District since 2007.

It was reported in HA-012-2007 [Handloom weavers and their family members may die from tuberculosis in Uttar Pradesh due to poor living conditions] that eight handloom weavers and their families in Lohta suffered from TB and hunger. In another previous case, HU-005-2007, Mr. Mahmoodul Hasan also suffered from TB for many years.

All of the weavers living in Lohta found it difficult to provide food for their family as the weavers had lost their jobs due to the decline of the handloom weaving industry. These weavers infected with TB even could not do any other work as they became weaker. This vicious circle of the extreme poverty and the ailment constantly threatens the weavers and their families' lives.

Another handloom weaver, Mr. Ahmed Ansari living in Lohta reportedly suffers from TB. He went to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) of Kashi Vidhyapith Block and was put on medication for the last three months. However, as is shown in many other weavers' cases, he also had to stop treatment in order to support his wife and four children. Moreover, he had no other option for making a living other than pulling a rickshaw. The more he works, the worse he gets as intensive physical labour aggravates the disease.

It is reported that R S Verma, Chief Medical Officer said that the Designated Microscopy Centre (DMC) covering all eight Blocks in Varanasi district has made diagnostic facilities available to all sections of the society. However, Ahmed could not access the DMC in Lohta as the facilities are not properly known to the handloom weavers who are the most vulnerable group infected with TB.

Due to the extremely indigent living conditions of the handloom weavers, they can neither provide daily food for their families not get them fully treated. While the weavers infected with TB get treated, other family members find it difficult to obtain food. Eventually this forces the infected weavers to go back to work to feed their families. Incidentally, the weavers cannot even find work such as rickshaw-pulling, or construction work on a regular basis.

Although there are some facilities established under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), and success stories were reported, there is no additional support for the rest of the family members while the main bread winner infected with TB is under treatment.

In a people's tribunal for weaver's and artisans organized by the Varanasi-based People's Vigilance Committee (PVCHR), in collaboration with Action Aid International India (AAIA), the AHRC and Bunkar Dastakar Adhikar Manch (BDAM) on 18 December 2007, many handloom weavers in Varanasi district appealed against their poverty and the deaths from TB infection and hunger. For the details on the tribunal, please go to the Ethics in Action.

The AHRC demands that the local government take more positive action to eradicate TB infection and death by TB in Varanasi. In particular, in the Lohta area, the relevant authorities should directly care for the many handloom weavers exposed to TB infection and lack of food.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write a letter to express your concern about the handloom weavers suffering from lack of food and TB infection in Lohta, Varanasi.

The AHRC has also written a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and World Health Organisation calling for their intervention.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Please stop Tuberculosis and extreme poverty threatening handloom weavers in Varanasi

Name of the victim suffering from TB and hunger: Mr. Ahmed Ansari and other handloom weavers who are either suspected to be or infected with TB, living in Lohta area, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Relevant government authorities: Ministry of Health and family welfare
Location: Lohta Panchayat, Kashi Vidhyapeed block, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh

I am writing to express my concern about the handloom weavers suffering from TB infection as well as lack of food in Varanasi.

I have learned that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has reported the handloom weavers' extreme poverty and endemic aliment among them since 2007. The AHRC along with local human rights groups held a tribunal for weavers and artisans living in the Varanasi district. Many of the weavers, coming from different areas in Varanasi to participate in the tribunal, suffered either from lack of food or from a TB infection which sounded alarms to the people of the world.

I have discovered that all of the weavers living in the Lohta area of Varanasi district found it difficult to provide food for their family as the weavers have lost their jobs due to the decline of the handloom weaving industry. The weavers infected with TB even could not do any other work because they were too weak. This vicious circle of the extreme poverty and the persistent presence of TB infection threaten the weavers and their families' lives on a daily basis.

I was recently informed that another handloom weaver, Mr. Ahmed Ansari from Lohta reportedly suffered from TB. He went to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) of Kashi Vidhyapith Block and was kept on medication for the last three months. However, as is shown in other cases, he also had to stop his treatment in order to support his wife and four children. Moreover, he had no other option for making a living other than pulling a rickshaw. The more he works, the worse he gets as intensive physical labour aggravates the disease.

I am aware that the rate of TB infection in India was the highest in the world according to the World Health Organisation report 2007. I am also aware that the relevant local governments have made efforts in order to stop the spread of TB such as the establishment of the Designated Microscopy Centre (DMC). Despite this, many handloom weavers who are more exposed than others to TB infection and poverty cannot access proper facilities to get fully treated.

Therefore, I urge you to take more positive and substantial action and give more attention to the handloom weavers in Lohta of the Varanasi district. Please take note that the weavers and their families need an appropriate livelihood and regular food while the main bread winners attempt to completely recover.

I further urge you to ensure that the handloom weavers should be helped to be freed from their extreme poverty resulting in the lack of adequate food. Unless the handloom weavers have appropriate work to support their families with sufficient nutritious food, the Indian government will never eradicate TB.

Yours sincerely,

----------------
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss
Minister
Ministry of Heath and Family Welfare
Chamber No.348, Nirman Bhawan
New Delhi -110 011
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 2306 2358

2. Dr. Jagdish Rai
State TB Officer (STO)
26-F, Swasthya Bhawan,
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Fax: +91 522 262 3980

3. Ms. Mayawati
Chief Minister
Chief Minister's Secretariat
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Fax: + 91 522 223 0002 / 223 9234
E-mail: csup@up.nic.in

4. Secretary to the Government
Uttar Pradesh State Government
5th Floor – Lal Bahadur Sastri Bhavan
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA

5. Dr. S.J. Habayeb
World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to India
World Health Organization India Office
534, 'A' Wing, Nirman Bhawan, Maulana Azad Road
New Delhi – 110 011
Fax: +91 11 23062450

6. Stop TB Department
World Health Organization
20 avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27
Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 791 31 11
Email: tuberculosis@who.int

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Document Actions