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Kalkutta

Project start | 1983

   

Free missions | 1428

Kalkutta

A summary of our project in Calcutta

Dates and Facts

Project begin: 1983

Number of doctors presently working there: 6

Missions: 44 voluntary medical missions were performed in 2017. A total of 1,428 missions were performed between 1983 and the end of 2017.

Patient contacts: Over 60,000 treatments are performed annually in Calcutta.

Partner: The German Doctors has cooperated with the native aid organization, Howrah South Point (HSP), which specializes in working with handicapped children from the slums, from the very beginning. The German Doctors comprise the general medical department under the auspice of the HSP.

Structure: Three teams of 2 doctors apiece drive according to a fixed route to the different outpatient clinics in the slums within the boundaries of Calcutta and Howrah. There is also a tuberculosis (TB) hospital for men, women, and children under the supervision of the German Doctors and diverse outpatient clinics for patients with TB. The German Doctors additionally maintain an inpatient nutrition program for severely undernourished children.

Locations of medical missions: the slums of the sister cities Calcutta and Howrah

Most common health problems: infectious diseases, mal- and undernourishment, diabetes, hypertonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and tuberculosis.

Priorities: ward for severely undernourished children in Shibpur, the TB hospital St. Thomas Home for Women, the TB clinic for men, Pushpa Home for children with TB, vaccination programs for children, and pregnancy counselling.

A summary of our project in Calcutta

Health for Impoverished Patients in the Slums

The German Doctors provide various kinds of aid in Calcutta and the neighboring city, Howrah, to provide the poor population there with health care. Every weekday the German doctors and their team of translators and nurses drive to different locations in the slums in the above-mentioned cities to treat patients. A large group of patients already awaits them on their arrival. Each doctor sees from 50 to 70 patients every weekday. Common illnesses are: common colds, infectious diseases, diarrhea, hypertonia, and tuberculosis (TB). A total of 9 outpatient clinics within city limits and in the surroundings are visited regularly.

Mal- and undernourished children receive a nourishment program. There is a children’s ward for children with severe, acute diseases. We also maintain clinics to treat TB and take care of patients with chronic diseases. Family planning and pregnancy counselling are especially important. Every year at least 20,000 children are vaccinated against polio, DPT, measles-mumps-rubella, and hepatitis B and against TB with BCG.

A summary of our project in Calcutta

Tuberculosis Treatment in Calcutta

The people in the slums live in very crowded conditions in hovels in the slums. Most of these dwellings do not have sufficient ventilitation. A large number of people live together within a small space. These are optimal conditions to spread infectious diseases like TB, which is, unfortunately, very common in Calcutta. TB requires lengthy treatment and good compliance, without which dreaded drug resistance evolves.

We treat about 80 young patients annually in the Pushpa Home, our TB ward for children. These little patients receive their medication, vitamins, and the necessary mineral nutrients there regularly. Trained coworkers maintain close contact with their parents to advise them in medical and social matters. Since the treatment takes so long, 3 teachers are there to provide lessons in a special schoolroom during their hospital stay.

We also maintain a hospital especially for women with TB in the St. Thomas Home. Aside from the hospital rooms, there is a large outpatient diagnostic and treatment center with its own laboratory and radiology equipment. General medical care is also provided for the neighboring slum population. The German Doctors support a specialized clinic to treat men with TB run by an Indian partner organization. We provide essential medicaments and ensure that the treatment is successful. Patients from our outpatient clinics in the slums who are suspected of having TB are referred there for further treatment by our doctors.

Our boarding school, Asha Kiran, provides places for 40 girls who have completed their TB treatment, but for various reasons cannot return home, whether because their family members are also ill and are still being treated or have already died of the disease. The boarding school is attached to the neighboring St. Francis School, where the girls are educated.

It is especially with thanks to the married doctors Kölle that we have been able to establish such a well-functioning system to treat patients with TB in Calcutta.

Quacks: from enemy to friend

The many self-proclaimed ‘doctors’ (quacks) who abound in the overcrowded slums constitute a huge problem. These individuals are just trying to earn money, but due their lack of medical knowledge, they harm the slum population. They haphazardly prescribe a course of TB medication, which is only effective if it is taken consistently over a longer period of time (months). This leads to the dreaded resistances to TB medication.

With arduous efforts of persuasion, Dr. Tobias Vogt, our coordinator on site, was able to integrate these quacks into the state TB programs and the work of the German Doctors. A great deal has been achieved by training the quacks, offering small financial incentives for conscientious participation in the anti-TB program, and consistent awareness training of the local population. The quacks have learned to send their patients with suspected TB to get a TB test at the German Doctors’ center, where they can be adequately treated when the test is positive. Thus, these quacks have become real partners in the fight against this dreadful disease instead of promoting its spread.

A summary of our project in Calcutta

Doctors’ surgeries in places where children go hungry

The poor nutritional state of the slum population in India constitutes a medical and humanitarian problem. The normal weight of an adult in the poverty-stricken areas is between 30 and 40 kg; amongst children, over 40% show signs of grave malnutrition and resulting stunted growth. Especially newborns are often distressingly underweight, with an average birthweight of only 2,500 g.


Severe vitamin deficiency is widespread and a direct consequence of the lack of proper nutrition. Thus, many children in Howrah only eat eggs, meat, and fish on important holidays, if at all. The majority of the population can also barely afford fruit. As a result, especially children suffer from widespread vitamin-A deficiency, as well as a lack of zinc, iodine, and vitamin D. This lack of vitamins and minerals in turn weakens their natural defenses against infectious diseases. This leads to the dangerous and often lethal interactions between malnutrition and infectious diseases.

The German Doctors therefore runs its own children’s ward where undernourished children can be admitted, treated, and fed. Children who are more seriously ill can be put under observation and treated before deciding whether to refer them to one of the often rather expensive hospitals.

A summary of our project in Calcutta

Improving Living Conditions Through Advice

A support project for children in slum areas covered by the St. Thomas Home was launched In cooperation with the children’s relief agency and Indian partner organizations in January 2010. During the initial phase, this project addresses mothers with children suffering from nutritional deficiency who receive intensive care and treatment at the health centre. Their mothers are given advice and training mainly on feeding their children. A German pediatrician, as well as a local social worker, a nutrition consultant, and a nurse are available there. This children’s development project also provides information and advice, encourages school attendance, and looks after socially deprived families. The long-term aim of the project is to improve the living conditions of the children in impoverished urban areas.

A summary of our project in Calcutta

When a city is bursting at the seams

Howrah has extensive industrial areas, especially steelworks. Large inner-city slums have grown up in the vicinity of these factories. Most of them are inhabited by families who left the rural areas of India where they have no perspectives and moved to Howrah in search of work.


Moslems from West Bengal’s neighboring state Bihar predominate. Many of these inner-city slums have been built illegally and have neither been documented by government agencies nor included in urban planning, like health-care services. These inner-city slums are now inhabited by several hundred thousand people; reliable figures are lacking.

The biggest problems in these slums are the high population density (on average seven persons per 10m2 dwelling space) and the poor hygienic conditions. There is no regular electricity supply, not enough drinking water, no sewage drainage or waste disposal, inadequate ventilation in the dwellings, and insufficient efforts to eradicate the vermin and pests that are everywhere. The struggle to survive economically is hard and leads to dubious employment conditions, low wages, widespread child labour, mafia-like structures, violence, and alcoholism. At most, only half the children go to school and learn to read and write. Political and religious extremists attract a large number of followers in these slums.

Kalkutta

Every donation helps!

15 Euros provides a child with a vaccination against Hemophilus influenza B (HIB) and protects it effectively against life-threatening  meningitis. 180 Euros enables 32 patients from the Calcutta slums to see a doctor and get treated. 20 Euros provides a woman with family planning and the required contraceptives for 1 year. 285 Euros provides a month’s salary for our 3 vaccination nurses. 360 Euros provides more than 200 patients with the medication they urgently need. 50 Euros ensures a pregnant woman will receive prenatal care (regular check-ups and required medication). 500 Euros provides 100 slum children with the vaccinations recommended by the WHO and thereby protects them from serious illnesses. 5 Euros provides all the vaccinations recommended by the WHO for one child in the slums of Calcutta. 85 Euros can cure 10 individuals of their cataracts and restore their vision. 100 Euros provides inpatient care for a severely ill patient with tuberculosis in our tuberculosis clinic for 1 month.

15 Euros provides a child with a vaccination against Hemophilus influenza B (HIB) and protects it effectively against life-threatening meningitis.

180 Euros enables 32 patients from the Calcutta slums to see a doctor and get treated.

20 Euros provides a woman with family planning and the required contraceptives for 1 year.

285 Euros provides a month’s salary for our 3 vaccination nurses.

360 Euros provides more than 200 patients with the medication they urgently need.

50 Euros ensures a pregnant woman will receive prenatal care (regular check-ups and required medication).

500 Euros provides 100 slum children with the vaccinations recommended by the WHO and thereby protects them from serious illnesses.

5 Euros provides all the vaccinations recommended by the WHO for one child in the slums of Calcutta.

85 Euros can cure 10 individuals of their cataracts and restore their vision.

100 Euros provides inpatient care for a severely ill patient with tuberculosis in our tuberculosis clinic for 1 month.

Hier ist noch Platz

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