Mobile Health Clinics to the Rescue in Kismayo
UNICEF provides healthcare to communities in remote and hard to reach areas.
In the port city of Kismayo in Jubaland state, Somalia, a team of three nurses in distinctive green coats offload their equipment next to a big tree and inside a makeshift house made of wooden sticks, polythene, and dilapidated iron sheet roofing. Inside the makeshift shelter where the mobile team has set camp, a table and seats have already been set up by the community in Jabarti One IDP camp that was expecting them and was aware of their arrival.
Word spread quickly in the camp which hosts more than two hundred households. The whole village came alive as residents from the camp and the surrounding villages thronged the mobile clinic. No one was left behind; mothers with their children as well as the elderly were all at the clinic to present their ailments and seek treatment. As soon as the team set up, the nurses began to record the weight and height of the children, checking for signs of malnutrition. The patients formed a long queue, each waiting patiently for their turn as the anguished cries of children filled the air.
The most common illnesses among the IDPs are acute watery diarrhea, especially among children, malaria, respiratory infections, and urinary tract infections.
“I was displaced from Jamame district in Lower Jubba region due to the devastating drought. I have been on the road for more than four days together with my eight children; we have just arrived recently in this camp. The drought has not only destroyed our means of survival, it has also impacted our health,’’ says Hamido who was suffering from malaria and currently resided at the camp together with her eight children.
The mobile health clinics are operated by UNICEF partner SAF UK with funding from the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Affairs (BHA). Before the mobile clinics started operating, the IDPs had to walk several kilometers to reach the nearest health facility or hire transport, often at a fee many could not afford. Services provided by the mobile clinics are free of charge, including the medication.
“When I first visited the mobile clinic, I was suffering from malaria, It had made my body weak, and fatigue had slowly set in. The worst part was the muscle aches and tiredness; I could not do anything especially fending for my children who depend on me for survival,” says Hamido. “With this medication, I hope to regain my strength and feel better soon. This service came at the right time considering the high cost of basic health care in this area,” adds Hamido.
SAF UK operates two mobile health clinics in Kismayo with well-trained medical doctors and nurses. The teams are quite reactive and can reach patients in areas that are not easily accessible or are cut off from the main town. The mobile clinics also conduct targeted health awareness campaigns in and around the town.