- Catherine Wenger
A Day at the Mobile Clinic in Natan
Updated: Nov 24, 2021
Natan is a small village with a population of 1,455 people in East Pokot that is about one hour from Chemolingot hospital on very rough road. On August 10th, 2021, a team of members from Probitas, Kaperur CBO, and ACCIH along with Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and hospital staff made the trip to set up the clinic under a large tree far from the road. While no homes or buildings were visible, this location is considered a central meeting place for the people in the village. Here they can listen to their chief make announcements, speak with each other, and even gather to play games.
The team set up 4 areas for the people of Natan to have their different needs addressed. The education section had banners staked in the ground and tied to trees to be used by CHVs to teach them how to recognize and prevent diseases such as Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL), Snakebite, Trachoma, and Malaria. The Clinical Officers (COs) sat behind a table where they would receive patients, take height and weight measurements as necessary, and write prescriptions or referrals for any ailments the patients might present. The pharmacy team established a dispensary table where they distribute drugs per the COs’ instructions and educate patients about how to properly take their medication. Finally, a table run by the lab technician was set up to receive patients with suspected cases of VL, Malaria, or HIV for rapid diagnostic tests. With their results, patients returned to the CO table for further instruction.
About 290 people visited the team at the mobile clinic that day and completed the education session. They learned how to use bed nets, follow proper WASH techniques, and sing a song to will Kala-azar (VL) out of their community. The goal was for people in the village to be able to take steps to prevent themselves from getting VL as well as recognize the signs and symptoms so that they can decide to seek medical help at the hospital quickly. It also served to create a better relationship between the community and the hospital and research staff so that the people of Natan know that these healthcare providers are dependable and trustworthy when it comes to their health and wellbeing.
About 215 patients were treated at the mobile clinic for diseases such as malaria, upper respiratory tract infections, conjunctivitis, urinary tract infections, etc. At the lab station, 5 out or 31 patients screened for malaria were positive, and of the 2 people screened for VL, both were negative. The mobile clinic served many children in need of specific medical attention while also distributing deworming medication to every child that attended. These clinic outreaches are valuable to small villages like Natan because they are very far from medical facilities and residents do not have the time, money, or means to easily seek medical help when they are sick or injured. Instead, this mobile clinic brings the treatment directly to those in need until access to established facilities can be expanded.
Overall, the mobile clinic temporarily fills the gap in healthcare delivery for the villages it goes to but the education lessons and relationships built are long lasting. The people who came can take what they learned of the 4 diseases and teach their neighbors, families, and friends to follow the same guidelines. And, if someone does get sick, there are plenty of people around who have been taught to recognize the signs of VL and trust that the best place to go for help is Chemolingot Hospital.