Finding places in Lucknow can be a pain, especially if you are navigating the old part of city. Narrow lanes, slow traffic and lack of signs, all makes it a tough task. As a volunteer for Hidden-Pockets, my colleague and I, recently decided to look for places that offer sexual and reproductive health services in Lucknow.
So we paid a visit to a family planning clinic of Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) Lucknow. As per FPAI Lucknow branch office, FPAI has 3 clinics in Lucknow. Finding the clinics’ number was not easy, as they don’t have any official landline number for their clinics. Google maps was also of limited help because the information available on the Internet about FPAI Lucknow is outdated with wrong numbers. So we used the rough directions received from Lucknow branch office, to visit the FPAI clinic located nearest to us, which was Sadar area inside Cantt. General hospital.
Riding on a scooty, we missed the turn for the clinic and had to take a U-turn back to Burlington crossing. (People visiting it from Hazratganj, please take a left from Burlington crossing and go straight). Once you are on the road to Sadar from Burlington crossing, you have to drive straight till you cross a flyover. As you descend from the flyover, look for Cantt. General hospital on the right.
After reaching the Cantt. General hospital, finding the clinic itself was easy. There was a big sign in the parking at the entrance, showing the way to the clinic. Clinic occupies first three rooms of a long corridor and is a hub of activity with a staff of 10.
As we made our entrance into one of the rooms, three women, who though relatively surprised at seeing us, greeted us warmly. We informed them about our purpose and settled to have a conversation. They were working as counsellors at the clinic.
Talking to the counsellors was informative as they told us about the range of services provided at the clinic (See the pic). Anyone can avail of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services at the clinic by just walking in without any prior appointment or ID proof. They also have tie-ups with government functionaries like ASHA workers in rural areas. According to the staff, regular village camps are conducted by clinic. ASHA workers also refer patients to the clinic and get a small incentive for the referral.
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That particular clinic has been in operation for more than 30 years. It shares both the premises and facilities of Cantt. General hospital like pathology labs. It has an 8-bed unit with one doctor. Currently, the clinic doesn’t provide 2rd trimester MTP services and refers patients to Queen Mary hospital in Lucknow, whenever any such case comes up. The clinic currently did not have any male patients. This, we believe, was due to lack of outreach effort by the clinic and also because of low awareness about its services in Lucknow city area. Talking to the counsellors at the clinic we felt comfortable and welcomed. They showed us around the clinic and were proud of the work they were doing. One of the counsellors is close to retirement after serving a long term with the clinic.
Right counselling continues to be a big challenge in the Indian healthcare system. Discussing your health issues in a safe and trusted environment with trained professionals is difficult. It often makes people anxious, especially sexual and reproductive health related issues. FPAI clinic at Cantt. General Hospital can be a good resource for someone looking for counselling on sexual and reproductive health in Lucknow. It has a friendly environment and experienced staff who are more than willing to listen to your concerns and answer your queries with a smile. Do check them out!
PS: “FPA India clinics may charge, what we prefer to call as a ‘partial user fee’ to the clients for seeking abortion or any other SRH service. This fee is very subsidized and helps the Association meet some running costs. However, all FPA India clinics also have a “NO REFUSAL POLICY”, which states that no client walking into any FPA India facility is denied any service, especially if he/she is unable to afford even the subsidized fee. Thus, poor and marginalized clients can also access quality services in FPAI clinics. Only when the facility is not equipped to provide a particular service (for example some client may need a specialized service, or admission or higher level emergency care) are clients to other facilities.”
About the writer:
Nitin Malik is a volunteer with Hidden Pockets.