Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

Mobile clinics: Alternative healthcare delivery

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This article was originally drafted by the Centre for Democracy and Development for the newsletter “West Africa Insight” as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Searchlight Process. For more Searchlight content on, please click here.

The settlers of rural areas in Africa will no longer find it very difficult to access health medication as mobile clinic is providing the services to the people. This idea is touching lives throughout Africa. The natives of Ellembelle District in the Western Region of Ghana now have a mobile clinic to facilitate health delivery in the vicinity. The 1,000 Ghana Cedis mobile toilet serves as first aid and emergency health service provider, and prevents maternal mortality and morbidity. Launching it, Director of Ghana Ambulance Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ahmed Zachariah, said the initiative was part of the government’s commitment to promoting health for national development. In the same vein, the 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 the region.

Placing the first course of masonry block for a humanitarian clinic being constructed in Senegal, AfricaBy U.S. Navy photo by Steelworker 2nd Class Bernard Reynor. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the Bulanyaki community in Sokoto State Nigeria, pregnant women do not seek antenatal care because of the remoteness of the area and lack of medical attention. Local authorities sent a mobile clinic to provide antenatal services in the Bulanyaki community. Staffed by a nurse, the mobile clinic now travels to Bulanyaki every Tuesday; women from in and around Bulanyaki can now access antenatal care. The 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 get free medical consultations and gifts of Pampers diapers for their babies. The Pampers Mobile Clinic has been offering consultations and giving free expert and on-the-spot medical advice, addressing mothers’ pressing worries such as feeding habits, breast feeding, sleep pattern, vaccination and common ailments in various rural and semi-urban communities in Nigeria.

In the Eastern region of Cameroon, the rate of infant and child mortality has decreased 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 of the health center in Ndoumba-Olinga. In three months, 261 children were diagnosed at the Ndoumba-Olinga Mobile Clinic; out of these, 46 were malnourished and their families were given nutritional guidance and care.

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.

West African states have neglected health service providers in rural communities. With mobile clinics gaining ground in West Africa rural communities, it is likely to be the major means of giving health services to the people of local communities come the years between 2015 and 2020. Nigeria, for instance, has National Health Insurance Scheme that never worked. The introduction of mobile clinic appears to be the best alternative to providing these services to the rural inhabitants, thus government, NGO and donors must support this initiative because of the pivotal role it plays in the lives of rural inhabitants in the West Africa region.


Searchlight Process

The Rockefeller Foundation’s Research and Records Unit has undertaken an innovative approach to addressing this challenge by generating applicable intelligence that emerges from a forward-looking, on-the-ground perspective throughout Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It is known as the “Searchlight” function—a group of forward-looking, regionally-focused horizon scanning and trend monitoring grantees that conduct regular, ongoing scanning for novel ideas, research results, and "clues" to where the world is evolving.