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Bringing Community Health to a Bali Market

Clinic Improving Reproductive Health for Low-Income Women in Bali Operates in the Middle of Busy Denpasar Market.


(7/1/2006)

Established in January 2004, a much needed clinic offering medical care and health education programs has been operating in an unlikely locale – in the very center of Bali's largest traditional market, Pasar Badung in downtown Denpasar. The market, adjoining the Kumbasari Art Market, is a bustling center of commerce open on a 24-hour basis attracting vendors and customers from across the entire region. As is generally the case in Bali's markets, the majority of vendors and workers attending the pasar are women with relatively low education and minimal incomes.

Those deriving their incomes from traditional market environments are, in the best of times, engaged in a daily struggle to survive economically. Following the recent terrorist bombings in Bali, however, the already precarious livings eked out by the women at Pasar Bandung has become an even greater challenge. As a result, women with little time or money are often faced with the choice of forsaking their own health needs in favor of more immediate needs of putting food on their families' tables each day.

While the maternal instincts that make personal health care a secondary consideration for these women is understandable, the continuing dangers of maternal mortality, cervical and breast cancers, and the risk of sexually transmitted disease (STD's) - including HIV/AIDS mean that these female breadwinners put themselves at real risk when they fail to take care of their health.

Rama Sesana Foundation

In recognition of the pressing need in the community to guard the health of the Island's mothers and daughters, the Rama Sesana Foundation (YRS-Bali) decided that Bali's main market was a very strategic area from which to reach a large audience of women and provide them with affordable, accessible, and quality medical care services and health information. From the busy Health Center located in the market, outreach workers - comprised of both staff and peer educator volunteers, are able to talk with vendors, laborers, and shoppers at all hours of the might and day. The outreach workers hand out brochures and condoms as required, and make referrals to the clinic which is open during the day and on Friday nights. Every month the clinic receives about 400 patient visits; does Pap smears for around 50 women; screens some 100 patients for STDs and vaginal infections; and provides family planning, prenatal, general health services, and counseling and medical referrals for many more. Patients are asked to only pay what they can afford for tests and medicines.

In addition, the program also runs discussion sessions every month to provide in-depth information and answers on important health topics with expert guest speakers scheduled on alternate months. There's also a monthly support group meeting for women victims of violence.

Initially established with funds provided by the Bali International Women's Association (BIWA), the YRS Reproductive Health Program (YRS) at the market now receives the bulk of its funding support from the Ibu Pertiwi Humanitarian Foundation (YKIP) and the Annika Linden Foundation.

In order to provide badly needed additional funding for the program, the YRS is establishing another clinic location for higher-income patients to help subsidize the marketplace programs. Open to both male and female patients, the new clinic will soon operate at Jalan Tukad Buaji 37A in Panjer, Denpasar.

Interested visitors are always welcome to visit the either clinic with the YRS Badung Market Clinic located on the 4th floor of the Pasar Badung.

balidiscovery.com thanks Jane Patten for her invaluable assistance in providing information and photographs for this article.

Photos from Women's Clinic at Pasar Badung Market (Click to Enlarge)


More information: YRS Website

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