MADISI – Malawi: By Mercy Chikhosi
A mobile clinic vehicle drives about five kilometers to Chakhaza Health Center from the United Methodist Church in Malawi (Madisi) through the dust road to pick nurses and health surveillance assistants before driving to Madisi Catholic hospital to pick more local supporting medical staff. The vehicle, with The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (REZ) team and staff from Chakhaza and Madisi is its way to Mzira village, Traditional Authority Chakhaza, in Dowa district. After ten minutes of drive, the car slows down to a warm welcome by a group of villagers and local leaders who anxiously kept waiting for the team to arrive.
Health centres are far apart and it takes endurance for many residents to access medical care. The situation becomes even tougher for children who rely on someone to lift them to a health facility, risking their survival in the process. In response, REZ, Ministry of Health and other partners conducts mobile clinics under outreach programs targeting underfive children, the elderly, youths and antenatal mothers. The mobile clinic played a critical role in providing high-quality, low-cost care to the vulnerable populations.
“Whoever came up with this idea of having this mobile clinic should be praised. Our children have been saved. We don’t have to go to Madisi or Chakhaza for the illness of our children. This is wonderful,” said Mayeso, with a two year old child, Misozi in her hands. Two year old Misozi, Mayeso’s grandson has been having intermittent high grade fever for 5 days and tested positive to Malaria after a Rapid Test and gets Coaterm. This was not the case previously. Patients are forced to endure the long distance to Chakhaza Health Center just to ensure that their children have access to medication which is not always available. “We are grateful.” She added. Misozi and her grandson walked about 2 kilometres to Mzira while the mobile clinic was done on the first day.
The mobile clinic which served over 820 patients were conducted for three days (Mzira, Mtiti and Chigoma) supported by local clinicians, nurses and HSAs who speak the local language and provide patients with culturally sensitive care. The local medical professionals also understand the local referral system and helped direct patients who could not be treated at mobile clinic site to a local hospital that can provide the necessary treatment.
The mobile clinic included health education that all patients participated in before starting attending to patients. These educational information focused on informing patients about common health problems, important screening tests, and answering questions that concerned parents and family members were having.
Through direct interaction with community residents and medical professionals, as well as information related to mobile clinic sites, the REZ team had the opportunity to learn about Malawi healthcare system and culture through the context of service.