Making use of already existing Mobile Clinics
What these are?
Mobile clinics comprise of medical facilities and staff who travel to rural areas from the nearest health centres to provide health care for the deprived societies. Most mobile clinics in Tanzania and other countries in Africa are run by the Regional and District health centres. In Tanzania, there are weekly mobile clinics that use cars to reach out to all the nearest villages.
These usually focus more on education and preventive measures than curative attempts. Currently, the main health issues targeted during these clinics are contraception and vaccination of under fives.
Education on importance of sanitation and clean water supply would be in line with prevention of all the water related disease taken to health facilities. Most health facilities in rural areas already acknowledge the burden of existing water related disease in their respective regions. On the other hand, they will also be combating other problems related to poor access to clean water and sanitation such as poverty.
If governments work hand in hand with their ministries of health to enforce such education as part of their weekly mobile clinics, this problem can be tackled effectively.
Staff in existing mobile clinics include about five people. These are health care professionals such as doctors and nurses in a car with medical equipment and teaching material as well as a driver. People who receive services from such clinics are mainly women and children, most of whom are responsible in accessing the water supply for household activities.
If local governments would be involved during the educational campaigns in these mobile clinics they would be more effective.
Educational topics to be covered during the clinics:
Why water is important in Sub Saharan Africa
The crisis of poor access to clean water in Sub Saharan Africa
Traditional methods of purifying water
Newly introduced methods of treating water
Importance of pushing the local governments to improve water supply in the region
New methods of harvesting clean water.
Sanitation: -Hand hygiene
-Proper changing of baby diapers
-Proper waste disposal
- Clearing breeding grounds of causative agents for water related diseases.
Mobile clinics can also include leaflets that show brief outline on how to access water easily, purify it and use it for hygiene purposes.
Some important facts that have to be included as part of addressing poor access to clean water as a problem in the communities should include:
Why is access to clean water important in Sub Saharan Africa:
Accounts for 2/3 of extracellular fluid in the human body. Therefore water is proved an important body component in order to remain healthy.
Has been a majorly overlooked cause of the longstanding poverty in Sub Saharan Africa and is one of the reasons that the first MDG is nowhere close to being reached in time.
46% of the 2.4 billion people who are expected to increase by 2050 will be born in SubSaharan Africa
Because poor access to clean water and sanitation claims more lives through disease than any war through guns.
Because more people have mobile phones than clean water proving peoples ignorance of this as a major problem in their societies and therefore failing to address it appropiately.
UN estimates about 40 million hours per year collecting water in Sub Saharan Africa which is a year’s worth of labor for France’s entire workforce.
When the problem of access to water supply is being solved, sustainable agriculture becomes possible and can expand from minimal farming to sustainable levels. Children can get back to school instead of spending many hours of the day collecting water or being sick from waterborne disease. Parents can even have more time to run small businesses.
WHO estimates that for every 1$ invested in access to water and sanitation, a range of 3-34$ economic return is generated from saving health care costs as well as running businesses.
Crisis of Poor access to water in Sub Saharan Africa:
37% of 786 million people in the world living with poor access to clean water reside in Sub Saharan Africa.
3.5 million people die each year from a water related disease. This means about 9600 people die each day every year from a water related disease.
Every year Sub Saharan Africa loses $28.4 billion on water and sanitation problem which accounts for 5% of their GDP.
Provision of water treatment kits during clinics (optional/additional measure):
These clinics can also be used to reach out to the community and provide them with a few simple essentials for temporary purification of water until the government implements permanent measures. Local authorities such as village officers can be trained by healthcare professionals of the use and supervision of this equipment. These kits can be kept at the village office where it may be allocated strategically to use the equipment under supervision of respective village officers.
Suggested components of the kit:
- Purification pen (uses UV light to purify water as it is stirred in a water container)
- Paper indicator (changes color to indicate if water is safe for consumption after treatment)
Education can be given in any local language of that village
Education is given by professionals who are trusted by the community
Directly approaches women, who play a major role in carrying out household activities that require clean water supply.
Mobile clinics already exists in most countries so it becomes an easy and cheap pilot project
Can make use of students studying health sciences in the closest medical teaching facilities to get involved in this kind of projects and reduce the burden for the medical personnel in the health centres
Target audience will receive the message directly through “word of mouth” and are directly assured of the methods safety in case of doubts and inquiries by professionals.
Mobile clinics can be used to educate people as well as provide them with essentials for water treatment under supervision of local authorities.
These can be done on World Water Day in March 22nd as one of the best methods of raising awareness in the society.