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Rodent-eating Musahars falling prey to kala-azar

Name any disease, any environmental problems, ill-hygienic factors, any socio-economic issues or any contaminating particles in water; they are present in the Musahar Tolis, a locality of the rat-eaters in Bihar. Nearly 21 out of every 100 people living in Musahar Tolis die annually of the dreaded Leishmaniasis or Kala-azar disease.

According to the Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences, the spread of Kala-azar germ among Musahars is due to their extremely ill-sanitation and exposure to all forms of bacterial infection. This killer disease is caused mainly by the bite of sand-flies and is endemic. During the annual floods when huts of Musahars are inundated with waters, Kala-azar spreads very rapidly. As all mud-houses of Musahars are ill-ventilated and mud-walls gets soaked in flood waters, the sand-flies thrive causing this disease. Tolis of nearly 13-lakh Musahars are found in almost all towns in Bihar. Nearly 98% of them landless, Musahars work as daily wage labourers often undergoing 12-hours of grueling physical exertions making. In the total absence of all sorts of sanitation/hygienic facilities, drinking waters and medical facilities, they are prone to almost all sorts of disease. The rate of infant mortality, pre-natal and post-natal death of expectant mothers is excessively high.

Patna-based A.N. Sinha Institute of Social Sciences report shows that the Musahars have nothing but only their physical labour to sell. As they mainly survive by eating rats/rodents, they intake lots of carcinogens present in the body of such rats/rodents. This makes them prone to diseases of all sorts including blood cancer, cholera, malarial attacks and a host of other diseases. Being primarily agri-labourers, they spray pesticides in the fields. This makes them inhale toxic elements which, in turn, results in causing leukemia, glaucoma, intestinal/abdominal diseases and serious skin diseases.

As cleaning human waste and scavenging animals continues to remain one of their jobs, they keep on catching serious diseases by the bacterial attacks caused by carrying human excreta. While the essential steps from the state government is yet to be taken, NGOs and other organisations too have shown little interest to ensure their proper sanitation.


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