The Out-Patient Clinic (OPC) is part of the health centre of our partner organisation S.B. Devi Charity Home. It was the first of the five projects and was founded in 1991. Since its creation, the outpatient clinic, which is located in the old town of Kolkata close to the red light district Sonagachi, has made a name for itself and has become an essential part of the local medical basic care.
The Indian medical team on site offers consultation hours and treatments six days a week. All doctors work full-time in hospitals or their own private practices. For the additional work they do in the health centre they only receive a symbolic salary. Through this commitment and support from Switzerland, a comprehensive medical offer is made possible for the poorest and socially most disadvantaged parts of the population.
The range of treatments includes Western medicine (allopathy) and alternative medicine (homeopathy). In addition, the project focuses on preventional work, which is provided in the form of regular workshops.
Patients pay a fee adapted to their means for their treatments and medicines, whereby medicines are also made available free of charge if necessary. On
average, 5,000 treatments per year are carried out in the outpatient clinic.
Doctors and patients can now benefit from a great experience and professionalism. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of development potential. There is no shortage of ideas for new investments and optimizations. In order to continue to provide services to disadvantaged people in Kolkata, the health centre will continue to depend on financial support from Switzerland.
PHPA is located in Sonagachi, India's largest red light district; about 50,000 people live on about 4 km2 in this area. Most of the residents are commercial sex workers (CSW's). Due to the high number of CSW's and the numerous associated problems, the Calcutta Project planned to launch a project early on in its development. Due to the strong stigmatization, the CSW's rarely leave their district, making access to medical care difficult for them. Therefore, the focus of PHPA is on medical advice, but also on prevention work and the provision of information.
The project was opened in 1998: For the consultation hours (3x a week) a room within the quarter is used. The beginning turned out to be difficult, because the confidence of the CSW's had to be won first. In the course of the initial phase, however, it became clear that the need for basic medical care was also great for the rest of the residents of the Sonagachi. Therefore, the project was extended to this part of the districts inhabitants and is now widely accepted and well established: On the one hand, we carry out prevention work in the form of hygiene and nutritional advice, and on the other hand, we also provide personal advice on AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Social support also plays an important role and is provided through awareness programes. In addition, we conduct curative consultations on a homeopathic basis. Here too, the general promotion of health awareness serves as a basis for the prevention of all kinds of diseases.
The MCH program, founded in 1991, is aimed in particular at pregnant women and mothers and their children (up to the age of five) living in Kolkata's poorer neighborhoods. The project team offers almost free gynecological and pediatric examinations and consultations. In addition, prevention measures are carried out in the form of events (on topics such as nutrition, hygiene and sexually transmitted diseases).
Our aim is to support the health of women and their children from pregnancy onward for a few years.
The MCH program is divided into three parts: gynecological examinations, monitoring during pregnancy, obstetrics and medical examinations for children. Gynecological examinations are carried out by a gynecologist, who often provides women with personal advice on health and tips on how to improve their quality of life.
The S.B. Devi Charity Home has made agreements with hospitals in the area, to which they can refer expectant mothers for the birth, among other things. Perfect care in the Health Center and the relevant hospitals is guaranteed by the issue of a control card, where the entire "medical history" of the women is continuously documented.
The medical examinations for children are carried out by a pediatrician, who mainly treats children's illnesses. Children's health is an important part of prevention work.
The women's meetings, which were initiated by the patients themselves, are also particularly positive. Here all different concerns can be discussed and additionally family, hygiene and nutritional advice is offered.
The HCPSC (Health Check-up Program for School Children) is comparable to a school medical service: a team of doctors from the SBDCH examines the classes of different schools twice a year and also conducts information events on hygiene, healthy nutrition and AIDS/HIV for prevention.
Founded in 1998, the program reaches on average 10,000 students in around 125 different schools every year. Through regular examinations, illnesses and deficiency symptoms of pupils are detected at an early stage and can be treated directly. If this is not possible on site, the students are referred to our Health Center (OPC) or to public hospitals.
On the other hand, prevention work is also an important pillar of the project. The children are sensitised to topics like hygiene, healthy nutrition and AIDS/HIV through valuable educational work. In order to achieve a lasting effect, teachers and parents are also involved in the consultation whenever possible.
Since 2008 the HCPSC is also responsible for the health check-ups of the children of our newest program, the KONIKA Kindergarten and Nightshelter. The children are examined every 3 months. Every Konika child (as well as all students) has a health check-up card that lists their age, weight, height, BMI and, if necessary, their clinical picture of the current year.
In 2011 the First Aid Training was introduced. Teachers and students can learn how to react to nosebleeds, heavy bleeding, various wounds, burns, suffocation due to swallowed objects, snake bites, unconsciousness and other emergencies. In addition to theoretical knowledge, participants also have the opportunity to train these situations in practice.
Annually an Inter School Quiz Contest is organized. Around 15 schools compete against each other with great enthusiasm. Through the quiz, students are playfully motivated and rewarded for learning by testing knowledge in the field of health and hygiene.
Since 2013, the State of West Bengal has also been increasingly active in the school medical service. They send a team of doctors to public schools and examine the children for possible diseases. However, unlike the HCPSC, the state does not carry out any prevention and educational work. If a school overlaps, this can only be seen as an advantage for the health of the children.
In the red-light district Sonagachi in Kolkata countless children of commercial sex workers (CSW) grow up under very difficult conditions. Konika Kindergarten was therefore opened in 2002. Since then, it has been offering a safe place and caring support to these children on three afternoons a week.
However, since the mothers work mainly in the evening and at night, there is a great need to extend childcare to night-times. Therefore, in August 2009 the kindergarten was extended by the Night Shelter. It is open from Monday to Saturday from 4 p. m. and enables children between the ages of 4 and 12 to stay overnight on site. During this time the children are supported with their homework, but also play, dance, sing, eat and much more. In addition, there are regular awareness raising events for mothers and/or children that focus on nutrition, education, hygiene and social behavior.
At the moment there are about 30 children attending kindergarten and 17 children attending Konika Night Shelter. The program manager in Kolkata has a very good, almost maternal, relationship with "her" children. One of the main objectives of the project is to support children in their school development to provide them an alternative route to prostitution and criminal activities.
Outside opening hours, the responsibility of the children remains with the mothers. It is important to us that they are also involved in the activities of Konika so that an improvement of the children's living conditions can be achieved through a joint effort.