This profile was prepared when Abel Albino was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
Abel Albino, a leading Argentine physician, is engaged in an all-out attack on his country's shocking problem of childhood malnutrition. The soldiers in his battle are a corps of community volunteers and an interdisciplinary group of professionals working on a pro bono publico basis. The weapons include "lactation clinics" to stimulate proper nursing techniques, a preschool nutritional assistance program and "micro-hospitals" where malnourished toddlers can receive specialized medical attention. An apartment donated as office space serves as headquarters for the Cooperative for Infant Nutrition (CONIN), the nonprofit organization that Abel founded and directs in the province of Mendoza.The crux and most novel feature of Abel's idea for "combating malnutrition on all fronts" is the construction of "micro-hospitals" dedicated exclusively to treatment and recuperation of malnourished infants. The layout of these new structures emphasizes function over form, cleanliness and cost-efficiency. Abel estimates that the operating costs of the micro-hospitals will average only one-fifth to one-tenth of the comparable sum in general hospitals in Argentina. A micro-hospital in Mendoza will serve as the pilot for an initiative that Albino plans to spread throughout Argentina.