Filling the widening gap: Mobile clinics
What does a good healthcare system look like to you? For most people it includes having a clinic or hospital a walking distance from where they live. Nurses and doctors must be well remunerated. Pharmacies should have adequate drugs at affordable prices. The reality is that such a situation is only available to urban communities in developed countries.
The picture is very different in developing countries. Due to the colonial legacy, most hospitals and clinics are available in urban areas, the better ones being close to the upper-middle-class communities. These healthcare services are usually for private meaning they cost an arm and a leg (quite literally) for most people.
In Zimbabwe, with about 1 500 most people live 5km from a health facility. However, 23% live between 5 and 10km away while another 17% are over 10km from the nearest health centre. That means, about 40% of Zimbabwe’s population live far away from vital drugs, nurses, or a doctor. This is where the mobile clinic comes in.
A mobile clinic is basically a renovated car/truck/kombi which provide basic clinical services with the support of a registered nurse or doctor. There are about 2000 of them in the USA, and hundreds in India, Kenya, and South Africa. In Zimbabwe, Regain37 has added another mobile clinic to that list and aims to add more over the coming years.
By their nature, mobile clinics serve those who fall through the cracks of the current healthcare system. It supports rural women, young boys and girls and low-income groups. Mobile clinics come with the benefits of providing regular visits for communities without having to sacrifice a day by walking 20km to go to the nearest clinic. With the expertise of the nurse and/or doctor, communities can be supported with preventive care which deals with diseases and ailments before they become huge health risks.
This is a widening gap that mobile clinics are filling for communities around the world. By adding another in Zimbabwe, access to health becomes more of a reality, and less of an unachievable dream.