1 February, 2010Issue 11.2Asia & AustraliaPhoto Essays

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A Walk-In Clinic in Pailan

Virginia Roncaglione

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Pailan, India—Like every Thursday, a big crowd gathers around the grocery and fish stalls of Pailan, a small village in the outskirts of Kolkata, India. While some sell their goods, others make provisions for the following week, sipping chai and chatting. Yet on Thursdays, there is also another crowd that gathers in the dusty roads of Pailan.

A walk-in clinic for children and babies has been running for 30 years thanks to the Child in Need Institute (CINI), a non-governmental organization serving women of nearby villages. Check-ups, treatments, vaccination, and advice about breast-feeding, nutrition, and childhood illnesses are some of the services offered here.

Nobody is turned away and everybody is visited—for free—by a doctor or a trained health worker. Medicine is prescribed if necessary.

CINI’s Thursday clinic is the main provider of health services for the area’s mothers and children in a country where, despite the impressive economic growth, still only 1% of GDP is spent on health and universal access to healthcare is still many years away from the population’s grasp.

Virginia Roncaglione is reading for an MSc in Global Health Science at Brasenose College, Oxford. In 2009, Virginia interned for CINI Bhandan, the HIV/AIDS prevention and care unit of the Child in Need Institute in Pailan.