The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Health reformer heads for Delhi

One of Calcutta’s best-known non-governmental organisations, Child in Need Institute, or CINI, is spreading its wings. The 28-year-old NGO, which has so far restricted its activities to east India and mainly Bengal, is setting up an office in the Capital.

With an ever-expanding range of projects, CINI has grown over the years, including much more than mother-and-child care that it started out with. Though no fieldwork is planned in Delhi, the branch will be an important link for CINI’s work with policy issues as well as fund-raising.

“We do a lot of work with the Central government and we intend to strengthen these activities,” said Amit Dasgupta, at CINI’s Pailan office.

The mother NGO, which supports other groups working in the eastern India, has been working closely with the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare as a collaborative training institute. CINI runs a training centre for trainers, mainly from northeast India. Earlier this year, it has been recognised as a regional resource centre to support NGOs in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and the Northeast.

The NGO’s activities have been steadily expanding. When it started in 1974, the focus was primarily on reproductive and child health. But over the past few years, a key focus has been the adolescent health programme, and an Adolescent Resource Centre has been set up at Gol Park in 2000. “This project has been a major thrust area for CINI’s work,” said a spokesperson.

“We follow a life-cycle approach, where attention must be paid at every crucial stage of a human being’s life. Adolescence is a very critical period, particularly in a country where marriage and the first child come very early,” explained Dr Nimai De, health consultant. Early intervention is essential, particularly when trying to convince young men and women about the need to delay the first birth.

CINI, which has for years run a mother-and-child health clinic at the centre near IIM-Joka, has tasted success with its peer education programme targeted at adolescents. Kits, featuring two children going through changes of adolescence, Champa and Shankar, are distributed to a kishor-kishori network, who then teach their peers about reproductive health. As low-birth weight has always been a key concern of the NGO, it has, for the past year, been working on the positive deviance project, which encourages families to adopt traditional practices followed by villagers, rather than ape their urban counterparts.

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