Finally! After almost a year of planning and fundraising efforts, IPHD has opened the doors for Bhikamkor’s only female health clinic, staffed by a female gynecologist, nurse, and supported by IPHD’s own health outreach team.
Although the right to health is a human right, it is not always a reality. Until now, the only health center in Bhikamkor has been a small government hospital that was staffed by one part-time male physician. Women and adolescent girls rarely seek care from the male doctor due to deep cultural and social taboos. The consequences, not surprisingly, have been profound for the thousands of women and children living in Bhikamkor and the surrounding dhanis (farmer communities). As revealed in a series of health scans conducted by IPHD, the majority of women and children are highly anemic and severely malnourished. We found that the plight of poor health status is further compounded by early marriages, gender inequality, multiple pregnancies, and complicated childbirths. One in every four women interviewed gave birth at home, without the assistance or supervision of a certified health professional. Approximately 40% of children had not received the recommended vaccinations.
The major barrier in achieving healthy practices for women and children in Bhikamkor is not one related to interest or initiative; the women want to receive the healthcare services necessary to keep their families healthy. However, they simply had no way of accessing a physician.
Thus, on the inauguration day of the Saheli Clinic, we were encouraged by the enormous crowd in attendance and the 44 women and children who were treated by our physician. Through the services provided in the clinic, IPHD hopes to improve the health literacy of women and children in the village, and impart important preventive care practices regarding family planning, disease prevention, and basic hygiene.
The Saheli Clinic will operate on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, from 10:30am-1:30pm. Stay tuned to hear more about the progress IPHD’s clinic makes in Bhikamkor.