30 May 2008
23rd April 2008 turned into the Black Wednesday. At Venkatapuram village and Pennaloorpettai of the Thiruvallur district, four Dalit children died shortly after vaccination. The children were given injection for immunization against measles at the weekly camp for Immunization Program. They, however, resulted to be suffered spasms, and frothing at their mouths. The victimized children were buried without proper autopsy.

The Tamil Nadu Government immediately suspended Village Health Nurse (VHN) who had administered the vaccine.

Women's groups in Tamil Nadu conducted immediately fact-finding mission to find out what had happened. Before finalizing the investigation on the causes of death, the State Government suspended the Village Health Nurse however the Government did not take any action for strengthening the health services to Rural Poor Women in the villages. Surprisingly, got rid of village based camp programs, and has authorized Primary Health Centers (PHC) in the presence of Doctors to give immunization. Under this plan, the immunization program which has been conducted by village nurses so far would be implemented in PHCs only. With this measure, pregnant women and mothers can have less access for the immunization due to the difficulty of travelling to the PHCs.

Hundreds of telegrams have been sent to State Authorities and to the Ministers to withdraw the government plan to limit immunization program at PHC. Women's groups have decided to conduct one week campaign to demand infrastructure facilities at Sub Health Centers to provide higher quality health services in rural area. The campaign of "immunization days" will start from 4th to 11th June in front of PHCs. A protest demonstration is also scheduled by all women's groups in Tamil Nadu on June 11th to stop the privatization process (centralization of health facilities) which leads to the deprivation of health services to Dalit, Tribal and poor rural women in the rural area.

Women need to be secured their accessibility to health care services as a part of Basic Health Need. The State is responsible for making sure the distribution of the basic health services for every woman. As a coalition of various women's groups Tamil Nadu Dalit Women's Movement took action to demand better health care service to women on May 28th, the International Day of Action on Women's Health.

Tamil Nadu Women's Forum
News and Analysis: 
PHM Campaigns: