Landscape Heterogeneity mapping for Access to Tribal health care in Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu, India
The Nilgiris district in Tamilnadu has a rich biodiversity in terms of flora, fauna and ethnic population. The district is basically a mountainous region, situated at an elevation of 2000 to 2,600 meters above MSL and constituting of several hill and Steep Mountain valleys. This region houses six tribes who are mainly forest dwellers and live in close settlements depending on the forest resources for their livelihood. The Tribes of Nilgiris have been diagnosed and monitored for Sickle cell Anemia which is a disease of major concern among these ethnic populations. This genetic disorder developed due to the sickling of Red Blood Cells has increased during the past few decades. The Tribes, as they live in close encounter with the forest regions and have strict social cultural barriers, face difficulty in availing treatment or counseling from the Sickle Cell Research Center (SCRC) and other NGOs like NAWA and AHWINI in the region. It was observed that many factors such as landscape terrain, climatic conditions and improper roads tend to hinder the access to appropriate health care. The SCRC in Gudalur region is a facility established to monitor the disease cases inspite of these influencing factors. On analyzing the year bound age wise classification among male and female patients, certain dropouts in cases were observed which may be due to inaccessible condition or migration of the patient.
In our study, Landscape heterogeneity mapping for different climatic seasons was done in ArcGIS 10.1. For this, contour and terrain maps, road networks and villages were prepared and factors that determine Terrain Difficulty were assessed. Vegetation mapping using IRS satellite images for the study region was attempted and associated with the landscape map. A risk analysis was proposed based on terrain difficulty and access to the nearest Health care Center. Based on this, the above factors alternate routes were suggested to access the difficult areas.