NDJAMENA, April 10, 2012 -- Djiatou is a village that is largely inaccessible year-round, and those who live there are cut off from health care centers. Although it is located a mere 25 kilometers from the Pala health district (400 kilometers southwest of the capital), it takes more than one hour in a 4x4 land cruiser to get there.
Recently, a group comprised of mainly women stood under the blazing sun in the village’s public square, and they were not there for the region’s weekly markets. All the villagers gathered at that location have one concern; receiving the invaluable care provided by the reproductive health mobile team, established by the Second Population and HIV/AIDS Project (PPLS2) to extend medical care to far-flung and inaccessible villages.
Once a month, the mobile teams visit the most remote villages to provide healthcare which they may not otherwise get. The teams, most often comprised of a midwife, two nurses, a laboratory assistant, a social worker, and a driver, are striving to improve maternal and infant health services and to prevent STI/HIV/AIDS.
Thus far, the achievements of this initiative are exceeding expectations in the project zone, and the most significant benefit has been to put an end to the suffering of pregnant women who travel long distances for prenatal visits in Pala or Léré. Eleven mobile teams manage to visit 20 sites per month, logging between 100 and 120 consultations per visit.
Local political authorities, community leaders, civil society and even beneficiaries took advantage of the opportunity to thank the World Bank for its support of the work in remote areas. The Governor of Mayo-Kebbi West and the Prefect of Lac Léré Department mentioned the colossal health needs of the region and commended the World Bank’s work in the health sector through the deployment of mobile teams.
The chiefs of the three villages visited all expressed their appreciation for the PPLS2 through the work being done by the mobile teams, which have helped improve the health of women and children in villages far removed from urban centers.
“The introduction of mobile health teams in the region has clearly helped such vulnerable population groups as women and children in Mayo-Kebbi West,” said a midwife from the Pala urban health center.
While expressing their appreciation for World Bank interventions, local authorities also expressed their concern regarding the sustainability of these activities. They expressed the hope that the mobile teams will continue their work until a health center is established in the village.
Mobile teams have not only shortened distances traveled but have also significantly stimulated demand for maternal and infant care and for screening.
“The mobile teams have greatly expanded community access to maternal and infant health services,” said a patient interviewed during their consultation. “Communities are totally satisfied with vaccinations, prenatal consultations, and STI and HIV/AIDS screening.”
The strong demand and excellent response to family planning (birth spacing, use of condoms and contraceptives, etc.) have led to significant behavioral changes in the beneficiary population.
The teams do not, however, have adequate resources to meet this strong demand. They mentioned in particular cases of severe malnutrition, which, unfortunately, they do not have the resources to treat. A number of problems should be mentioned such as frequent supply shortages, malnutrition cases that go untreated, and heavy demand from communities that is fueling the need for additional resources. Lastly, community demand for the services of mobile teams, which cover only three of the eight prefectures in Mayo-Kebbi West, remains strong.