Independent Doctors Association
For Syrians who have lost access to basic medical services due to violence and displacement, mobile clinics can be a lifeline. In March 2017, WHO’s Gaziantep field office in Turkey donated 5 mobile clinics to its health partners working in northern Syria, where many hospitals have been destroyed. Dr Tamer Hasan of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), a WHO partner, describes how the mobile clinic they received from WHO was immediately put into action to serve communities.
Dr Hasan: In the past, we had mobile teams. We’d have a van for the staff with space in the back for the stocks of medicines. We’d ask communities to prepare space for our visit – in tents, rooms in a school, a mosque. Sometimes these places were cold in winter and hot in summer.
The situation in a tent wasn’t good. It wasn’t comfortable for the patients, especially women.
We chose to take the mobile clinic to southern rural Aleppo because it’s a spread-out area with lots of small villages and displaced people. It’s underserved and neglected. The people are in dire need.
We thought the mobile clinic from WHO would be the perfect solution to cover this gap. It worked. We visit 6 villages in the area every week. We revisit the same area weekly. We reach about 4 500 families.
The mobile clinic has space, it’s convenient, it’s air-conditioned. There are good conditions for the doctor or midwife to examine the patient in the right way. Midwives can examine pregnant women inside the clinic. It provides privacy and dignity.
Last month, the mobile clinic saw almost 2 000 patients. People are now aware of the timetable for when the mobile clinic will arrive, and they register for check-ups.
We provide a lot of services from the mobile clinic. Some common diseases we treat are respiratory infections, skin problems and eye conditions, like conjunctivitis. We do blood sugar tests and tests for urinary tract infections, basic lab tests.
Most of the displaced people we help are living in host communities, but we do serve 2 camps. Communicable diseases like scabies and diarrhoea are more common in the camps for displaced people than in the villages.
With the mobile clinic, we go directly to the beneficiaries, because in some cases no public transportation exists. When we go directly to the people, we can park the mobile clinic anywhere – under trees, for example. You can do everything with this unit. It’s great.
WHO’s purchase of mobile clinics for northern Syria was supported by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations and the Government of Norway.