Mobile clinic reaches remote communities
Abuop Deng lifts up her baby’s shirt and shows a community health worker a rash that covers the infant’s stomach. He has had it for weeks, along with a fever and diarrhea, she explains. They, along with dozens of other community members, are sitting under the shade of a huge tree in the centre of the small village of Mawut.
“I didn’t know the health clinic would be here today, she says as Deec Akot Deec, a RRP health worker writes out a prescription for antibiotics. “I live very far away and came here to collect water. Then I saw everyone gathered under the tree and realized what was happening.”
This is the second time Deng has received treatment at the RRP mobile health clinic. The last time was a few months ago when she brought her other son to the clinic. He was also suffering from fever and diarrhea. After a health worker examined him he was given medicine and is now fine.
The mobile health clinic is an RRP initiative that brings basic health care to remote rural communities. A team of health workers is trained; and travels to different villages every month to provide services to people who might otherwise never see a doctor.
“Before I would have to walk to Luonyaker,” says Deng. “It takes about three hours,” she says. Deec explains that her son has a parasite from drinking dirty water and directs her to a small table that is littered with drugs; mostly, antimalarials, paracetemol and antibiotics. Three men sit around the table divvying out pills. They slide them into small paper cones before giving them to the patients. Deng takes her pills and leaves the clinic.
Parasites, malaria and malnutrition are common health problems in rural Sudan and these are the types of things community health workers are trained to diagnose and treat. The serious shortage of doctors, nurses and registered health workers means that even the most basic training can save lives, says Deec.
Similarly, a simple examination by a trained midwife can make the difference between a safe pregnancy and one with complications, says Theresa, a midwife who is working out of a tukul as part of the health team.
She gently prods a woman’s stomach, and determines that she is two months pregnant. This woman, like many others who have come to see her today are iron deficient, and in danger of contracting malaria. Theresa writes a prescription for her and tends to the next woman in line.
“I am tired, but these women need me, and this might be the only chance some of them get to have a proper check up,” she says. “This may be the only chance for all of the patients here today to get the help they need. That’s why we do it.”