Mobile Clinic, A Policy Option For Rural Healthcare Delivery

Inhabitants of rural communities in West Africa will no longer find it very difficult to access health medication as mobile clinic is providing the services to the people. This initiative is saving lives across rural communities in West Africa. The natives of Ellembelle District in the Western Region of Ghana now have a mobile clinic to ease health delivery in the vicinity. The 1,000 Ghana Cedis mobile clinic serves as a first aid and emergency health service provider, and prevent maternal mortality and morbidity.
Launching it, Mr. Ahmed Zachariah, the Director of Ghana Ambulance Services at the Ministry of Health, said the initiative formed part of government’s commitment to promoting health for national development. In the same vein, Ashanti region in Ghana would never get to see a doctor, if it was not for the mobile clinic. Since 1999 the medical team of Dr. Britta Budde-Schwartzman and her husband has been providing medical care for families in this region.

In Kogi State, in an effort to address the rural healthcare challenge in Ibaji and Igalamela Local Government Areas, a None-Governmental Organization, Rural Mobile Health Initiative was founded on February 14th, 2013 with headquarters at Ajaka. Staffed with three nurses, the NGO visits rural communities once a week to administer medication to the inhabitants. Those who need medical attention gather in the village square and wait for nurses on their visiting day. Those who are diagnosed with serious illness are referred to hospital for further medication. 
Because we do not have a hospital, patients are treated in their respective homes, in some cases, drips are been administered to the patient while they lie on their beds in their homes. Abuh Patience, one of the field nurses said.
The NGO has helped 70 women across some communities put to bed successfully. While 415 children and infants treated and 100 Piccan syrup distributed to 68 children suffering from teething, a simple sickness that has killed a good number of children in the rural communities.
In Bulanyaki community, Sokoto State Nigeria, pregnant women do not seek antenatal care because of the remoteness of the area and lack of medical attention. In an effort to address the health challenge in the area, the Local Government Authority sends a mobile clinic to provide antenatal services in Bulanyaki community. Staffed with a nurse, the mobile clinic visits Bulanyaki every Tuesday; women from in and around Bulanyaki come out in a large number to access healthcare via the mobile clinic.
Tural people of Edo State Nigeria are beneficiaries of Pampers Mobile Clinic, the CSR initiative of Procter and Gamble West Africa. At the Demonstration Primary School, Abudu, young mothers trooped out from the surrounding communities to take free medical consultation and gifts of Pampers diapers for their babies. Mr. Omolola Morgan, the mobile clinic Doctor, counseled young mothers on how to take care of their babies in their peculiar circumstance of not having easy access to hospitals. 
The Pampers Mobile Clinic has been offering consultations and giving free expert and on-the-spot medical advice, allowing mothers address pressing worries such as feeding habits, breastfeeding, sleeping pattern, vaccination and common ailments in various rural and semi-urban communities in Nigeria.
According to Patricia Obozuwa, Head, External Relations for P&G West Africa, the company began this program three years ago to assist women and their babies have access to medication. P&G is dedicated to the health progress of babies and their mothers and is investing in social programs which advance the lives of its Nigerian consumers.  For Pampers Mobile Clinic, the doctors and nurses had been given earlier training on the program before being deployed to the field, whereas assistants were engaged from some of the communities where they work as a way of empowering people in such communities, Obozuwa said.
In the Eastern region of Cameroon, Ndoumba Olinga community, the rate of infant and child mortality has reduced as Daiichi Sankyo-Ranbaxy, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, has been supporting the Mobile Clinic Project which provides vital health care to rural communities. “Prior to Mobile Clinic in the community less than 10 women and children visited health centers; now, there are over 50 patients daily and the number of deaths of children in the community has dropped from 3 children a month to 1,” explains Severin Vondo, head, Health Centre in Ndoumba-Olinga. In three months, sums of 261 children were diagnosed at the Ndoumba-Olinga Mobile Clinic; out of these, 46 were malnourished, their families were given nutritional guidance and care.
In Mali, barely 50% of the rural inhabitants have access to primary healthcare. A South African manufacturer, the Ranger Production Company, built a mobile clinic that is being used to administer healthcare to rural communities in the West African region. Since the year 2002, TurtleWill’s mobile clinics have saved the lives of 84,000 patients, treating 12,000 patients in the year 2009 in Mali. 
In Niger Republic, TurtleWill’s Mobile Clinics runs four mobile clinics treating 7,600 people. In the year 2006, TurtleWill’s mobile clinics treated a total of 15,112 patients in Niger, Mali, and Ethiopia.
Action for Health Education and Development (AHEAD) plans to deploy mobile clinics in a number of rural communities in Eastern Nigeria, operating in villages that lack access to medical care delivery.
Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) donated two units of hi-tech ultra-modern mobile clinics to two of Nigeria’s foremost health institutions, Abuja National Hospital and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital. The clinics will be operated in close partnership with the Korea Foundation for International Healthcare, local governments, local clinics, and NGOs. The Korea Foundation for International Healthcare will provide consultation and training on the operation of the mobile clinics to local personnel.
In a related development, US Doctors for Africa (USDFA) plans to deploy two-hundred mobile clinics and two-thousand medical professionals in communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa over the next ten to fifteen years. Their first mobile clinic was deployed to Senegal in January 2009. USDFA has created partnerships with key government officials and Ministries of Health in various African nations.
Rural health care has been neglected in communities across West African over the years. With the mobile health being institutionalized in West Africa, it is likely to be the major means of providing healthcare services to the rural inhabitants in the future.
Although there exists different approaches to addressing rural health care delivery;  Nigeria has National Health Insurance Scheme that never worked. But, there is virtually no policy on a holistic review engaging the option of a mobile clinic as a means of providing healthcare delivery to rural communities. Thus, governments, NGOs, and donors agencies must begin to think mobile health as alternative policy for addressing rural health challenge. This is most fundamental as Mobile health initiative appears to be the best alternative to providing healthcare to the rural inhabitants.
It is within this context that Rural Mobile Health Initiative seeks Mobile Clinic as a policy option for addressing rural health challenge.
We believe, this will make it possible for rural residents who cannot access medical care as a result of the absence of hospitals and dilapidated health facilities have access to medical care and the number of deaths reduced….
By Audu Liberty Oseni
Communication Officer, Rural Mobile Health Initiative

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