barefoot clinics – leaving a lasting imprint


Barefoot Clinics is an international healthcare charity that creates free acupuncture clinics in remote, impoverished areas of Nepal, India and other developing countries. In these regions, there is a severe lack of affordable and available healthcare.

What’s needed is a sustainable solution in India.

Barefoot Clinics have created one. Our approach is simple but based on decades of experience in developing countries and rooted in thousands of years of ancient knowledge.

We are pioneering the Chinese barefoot doctor tradition into rural, isolated regions; taking sustainable healthcare where its needed most. We’re changing the way healthcare is being delivered into developing countries.

How we do it

Firstly, we set up free acupuncture clinics to provide vital healthcare for the local population. Acupuncture is portable, inexpensive, non-perishable and highly effective. And we want as many people as possible to benefit from it.

So we train local people as barefoot acupuncturists. We give our students all the knowledge, skills, tools and equipment needed to run their own clinics. The focus is on empowering locals to provide healthcare within their own communities. While training programs are underway, local people continue to have access to the free clinics – which are at the same time providing essential clinical training for the students.

It’s a simple, practical solution to the problems these communities face.

Barefoot Clinics are a success story; now bringing relief to up to 1500 patients per week. We have already instigated  12 free clinics and have trained 25 students in the first 2 years. We’re planning on many more.

Why ‘barefoot’?

Traditionally, barefoot doctors were trained in basic medicine and acupuncture to be able to provide vital healthcare for remote villages.  They had no previous medical training and many barefoot doctors still worked barefoot in the rice paddies, hence the name.

Barefoot doctors were a major inspiration for the WHO conference in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan in 1978, where it was lauded as a breakthrough in the way healthcare was provided.

Today, the term ‘barefoot’ is generally understood to mean working in basic conditions, usually in isolated and rural areas, without the support structure of hospitals & other medical facilities to hand. 

Barefoot Clinics has developed the model to suit today’s world. Our training is sustainable and replicable and makes a huge difference to the communities we work in.

Photo: World Health Organisation (WHO)