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Balancing tradition and modernity in narratives surrounding contraception use among poorer women in West Bengal, India.
Unformatted Document Text:  5 Mogra Haat II, the third health center is located in a rural area about an hour and a half by train from Kolkata. The hospital at Mogra Haat has no PP unit, but female healthcare workers go into the field and visit women in the surrounding villages in their homes. The primary purpose of these visits is to provide birth control information and technology, immunization for children, and basic health and sanitation advice to mothers. Research was carried out by traveling to villages with healthcare workers and interviewing women in their homes. Approximately thirty interviews were conducted at each venue, over a period of a month and a half per center. Some of these interviews were taped and some not, depending on the preference of the woman interviewed. Additionally, field notes and a journal were maintained over the entire period. Clinic staff and doctors, and field based healthcare workers were also interviewed to better understand the environment in which patients receive care in these contexts. Who are the women using the public healthcare system? In India, people do not ordinarily use the public healthcare system unless they cannot afford much more expensive private health care (A. Bannerjee, personal interview, Oct 11, 2000) 1 . As the public system is government subsidized, it costs Re 1 (about 2 cents) for women to see a doctor. If the clinic has medicine available, the patient is given medication for free. If it is not available, it has to be bought at full price from nearby pharmacies. However, there is widespread awareness among staff and patients that the resources of the system are very stretched due to the sheer numbers of people seeking care at these centers. The women who come to the public healthcare system to receive care, therefore, are among the 1 Dr. Arup Bannerjee is Chief Medical Officer of Health III for South 24 Paraganas, the district in which all three centers are located in the state of West Bengal.

Authors: Mookerjee, Devalina.
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5
Mogra Haat II, the third health center is located in a rural area about an hour and a
half by train from Kolkata. The hospital at Mogra Haat has no PP unit, but female
healthcare workers go into the field and visit women in the surrounding villages in their
homes. The primary purpose of these visits is to provide birth control information and
technology, immunization for children, and basic health and sanitation advice to mothers.
Research was carried out by traveling to villages with healthcare workers and
interviewing women in their homes.
Approximately thirty interviews were conducted at each venue, over a period of a
month and a half per center. Some of these interviews were taped and some not,
depending on the preference of the woman interviewed. Additionally, field notes and a
journal were maintained over the entire period. Clinic staff and doctors, and field based
healthcare workers were also interviewed to better understand the environment in which
patients receive care in these contexts.
Who are the women using the public healthcare system? In India, people do not
ordinarily use the public healthcare system unless they cannot afford much more
expensive private health care (A. Bannerjee, personal interview, Oct 11, 2000)
1
. As the
public system is government subsidized, it costs Re 1 (about 2 cents) for women to see a
doctor. If the clinic has medicine available, the patient is given medication for free. If it is
not available, it has to be bought at full price from nearby pharmacies. However, there is
widespread awareness among staff and patients that the resources of the system are very
stretched due to the sheer numbers of people seeking care at these centers. The women
who come to the public healthcare system to receive care, therefore, are among the
1
Dr. Arup Bannerjee is Chief Medical Officer of Health III for South 24 Paraganas, the district in which all
three centers are located in the state of West Bengal.


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