Healthcare in the land of Himalayan Wanderers (Bakarwals)
Healthcare Models for the Nomadic Community
The Bakarwals of Jammu and Kashmir gained Scheduled Tribe status in 1991 through The Constitution Scheduled Tribes Order Amendment Act, 1991, with their first official enumeration during the 2001 Census. The term "Bakarwal" is derived from Urdu, Hindi, and Punjabi words 'Bakri' (Goat) and 'Wal' (Ownership). Primarily engaged in goat and sheep husbandry, they lack individual land ownership, relying on livestock for sustenance (Subhash, 2022).
In the remote corners of Kashmir, the Bakarwal nomads embody a unique health odyssey. Their transhumance lifestyle, dictated by seasonal migration and animal husbandry, poses unprecedented challenges. The affordability issue arises as they traverse remote areas, relying on traditional medicines due to unavailability of healthcare services (Wulifan et al., 2022).
The nomadic health odyssey is an evolving narrative, where each chapter uncovers new challenges and solutions. For example, as nomadic lives intertwine with their livestock, the 'One Health' approach is gaining momentum in Kashmir. However, planned interventions often falter in the face of unpredictable movements and logistical hurdles. Trained medical staff hesitates to navigate uncharted terrains, discouraged by a lack of incentives and the looming threat of violence (Zinsstag et al., 2006).
GRAAM’s ongoing study on health status, needs and access of the nomadic tribes of Jammu & Kashmir delves deeper into these challenges. We are preparing the final report and this comprehensive document will encompass the entirety of our research, from data collection to analysis, and will provide detailed recommendations for healthcare interventions that can benefit the Bakarwal community (Bashir et al., 2014).