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The Witch Doctor loses her battleThis picture epitomizes the sad, isolated life these Gadaba people lead stricken with poverty.

The lady in question is the one who is in the fore ground wearing a pink sari. She in fact died prematurely and I feel unnecessarily. She is in fact the witch doctor for all the surrounding Gadaba villages.  She goes to their homes and take out the evil spirits that are causing the diseases or bringing bad omen for the family and she is paid for that.

About two years ago I was asked to go and see a baby with gastro-enteritis. By the time I went to see the baby the parents have already taken the baby to this lady to get the evil spirits out. The way she this does is to make superficial burns on the abdomen for abdominal pain as you can see. I know the abdominal pain in the youngsters can be due to intestinal worms or constipation. She came and saw me in the clinic.


She opened her mouth and showed me the roof of her mouth (the palate) and clinically it looked a cancerous growth. The history is she has been smoking cigars with lighted ends inside her mouth.

This is a common practice among these tribal people more common in women. These mouth cancers are the commonest cancers among the women in tribal people compared to the residential population who do not practice that type of smoking. I have told her condition cannot be treated there but need to go to bigger hospital which is about 100 miles away for further treatment.

She told me she has two sons who do not care for her and a daughter given away in marriage to another family who will not allow her daughter to help her. Besides she has no money to travel and get the treatment which involves staying in the hospital for a while. I have assured the lady that I can make all the arrangements for her to go to the hospital. My stay there was very much limited as I had plans to leave that place next day for UK. I have explained to the nursing staff what should be done if she comes back to the clinic. I travelled went back to the same village in December 2012 and I was told sadly she died few months ago. What can we do about that. Her story inspires me to think more can be done for these people.

Perhaps if we have a benevolent funds that is managed by a small group of people consisting of:

1) the village Head
2) a senior doctor from the Leprosy Hospital
3) and the third person from UK managed with emails .

Then the money can be taken from the funds with mutual agreement and help these unfortunate people.

I am sure many babies can be saved from certain death and many adults too. We can call this benevolent funds as T.H.I.S Funds T standing for tribal, H is for healthcare, I for in, S for Salur.  I am sure it will T.H.I.S  is very much in embryonic stage and open for advice and modification.

Dr Sunder Rao Bethapudy
Dr. Kanakavalli Rao Bethapudy

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World Leprosy Day 2015

On World Leprosy Day 2015

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