Health of Coconut Tree Climbers of Rural South India – Medical Emergencies, Body Mass Index and Occupational Marks: A Quantitative and Survey Study 57-60
Bincy M. George
Assistant Professor in Anatomy
Melaka Manipal Medical College (Manipal Campus)
International Centre for Health Sciences
Madhav Nagar, Manipal University
Udupi, Karnataka, India - 576 104
Phone: +91 820 2922519 (Off.) +91 820 -2544298 (Res.)
+91 - 9986104682 (Mob.); Fax: 91-820-2571905
Introduction: Coconut plucking, a profession of a few communities in south India, is an arduous calling now. Permanent cosmetic defects to the skin, apart from medical emergencies, have forced many to abandon this time honoured profession. The objective of the present study was to explore the health status and the casualties in traditional coconut tree climbers in south India.
Method: A total of 240 male volunteers, all below 55 years, who were engaged in the profession, were interviewed between January 2006 and December 2008. A survey on the history of the falls, injuries, changes in the skin or body parts and the incidence rate of the withdrawal from the occupation were collected. The anthropometric data of 220 participants and their body mass index (BMI) was calculated. The parts which were afflicted due to occupational dermatosis were photographed and measured by using the scion image software.
Results: 15% volunteers from group1 (<10 years of experience), 26.6% from group 2 (10-20 years of experience), 44% from group 3 (20-30 years of experience), and 41.3% from group 4 (>30 years of experience) fell down from trees, resulting in injuries. The histories of accidental cuts/lacerations from special knives which were used and those of skids/slips during the monsoon season in groups1, 2, 3, and 4 were 7.7, 15.0, 16.9, 12.0% respectively. The body weight and the BMI of the climbers in groups 2, 3 and 4 showed significant declines as compared to those of the non-climbers. Colles, vertebral and maxillary fractures, tendocalcaneus lesions and severe allergies, were among the medical emergencies which were listed.
Conclusion: This study establishes a decline in the BMI with a progress in the tree-climbing experience, with marked falls being noted in groups 3 and 4. We suggest that this type of data should be taken into consideration in the plantation industry that depends on physical attributes, pesticides and lethal farm implements as the routine requirements.