We follow the non-descript bus for two hours along the flood damaged dirt roads of Sindh. The only thing marking its difference from a regular passenger bus, is the small National Red Crescent Society emblem on the side. But inside it’s very different – the bus carries an entire mobile health clinic and a team of volunteer doctors and other health professionals. For the past four weeks, it has been travelling through the region, providing emergency health care and hygiene education to flood-affected communities.
The bus finally pulls up at a small clearing next to a village, and the volunteers spill out. In five minutes, the first two-room tent is up – a dispensary, fully stocked with key medicines, and the first examination room. In another five minutes the final touches are being made to the second tent – a doctor’s examination room and a gynaecological “ward”. Benches are set up in the waiting area, examination tables unpacked, sinks are linked to a clean water supply, and the generator is started. Fifteen minutes after arriving at the village, the clinic is ready to see patients, who have formed a long line on the roadside.
The clinic has treated almost 5,000 patients over the past month. Diarrhoea and skin infections are common, malaria and dengue are on the rise, and malnutrition is high. For everyone who comes to the clinic, there is a group education session on the importance of clean drinking water and good hygiene. From there, everyone receives a general health check and has an appointment with the doctor. Finally it’s to the pharmacist for those who need medication. “It’s just like any health clinic in the city,” says one volunteer. “It’s just we carry it in bus to the people in most need.”
By Joe Cropp