Mobile Medicine: Clinics in the Developing World

by Kiara Velasquez on March 26, 2014

Providing proper health care in the developing world has plenty of obstacles. A lack of resources, employees, and funds are just some of the major challenges which health care providers face. Some hospital conditions aren’t substantial enough to properly care for a fair amount of patients. There is a lack of sterilized equipment, lack of natural resources (such as water), and there are many hospitals that are not kept well in terms of cleanliness and proper replacement of damage. However poor the conditions may be, hospitals in third world countries still give people around them the chance to heal from their medical conditions. What has become a more concerning problem in medical practice in developing countries is the lack of clinics and hospitals for those in impoverished or rural areas, where inhabitants are unable to travel for treatment.

"People waiting to get registered at Motihari District Government Hospital in East Champaran, Bihar. With so few doctors employed to work in the public sector of healthcare in India, this scene is typical."

“People waiting to get registered at Motihari District Government Hospital in East Champaran, Bihar. With so few doctors employed to work in the public sector of healthcare in India, this scene is typical.” (Oxfam)

In order to resolve this issue, many organizations have started to create mobile clinics that allow medical providers to come to their patients rather than have patients try to travel to hospitals. According to an article published in the American Journal of Public Health, “developing countries almost universally suffer from severe health service shortages, particularly those in rural areas” (Zeighami). A handful of organizations have dedicated their work to creating portable clinics such as FORTS Portable Medical Clinics, Containers 2 Clinics, and Clinic In A Can. FORTS was founded in 2009, and their models are versatile. FORTS models can be used as “disaster-relief sheltering, termporary medical clinics, military housing, portable offices, and emergency operation centers” (FORTS). Elizabeth Sheehan, the founder of Containers 2 Clinics was inspired to make her company based on her clinical work in the US, Cambodia, and Mozambique, where she realized how the “lack of access to basic healthcare resulted in death and broken families” (Sheehan).  Since the opening of their first clinic in 2010, Containers 2 Clinics has provided health service to 15,000+ patients in multiple countries. A division of Hospitals of Hope, Clinic In A Can was created in 2002, and focuses on bringing their clinics to remote places. Clinic In A Can has provided their service to Haiti, New Orleans, and the Philippines to provide natural-disaster relief. The medical capabilities of these organizations include Level 1 First Aid & Triage such as: out-patient services, pharmacy and medical supply, vaccination, ophthalmology, and dental services. Most, if not all, of these portable clinics are created from trailers or shipping containers that are completely renovated. The FORTS’ models are able to fold back up and be transported to a facility where they can be stockpiled side-by-side, taking up very little space. Containers 2 Clinics uses rescued shipping containers to build much needed clinics that have access to safe water and improved healthcare, mostly to treat women and children. Clinic in a Can creates a mobile medical clinic built out of shipping containers that are converted in the US and deployed, ready to use, anywhere in the world. These mobilized clinics have shown substantial success in helping those in need during natural disasters. Innovative actions like these have created such a huge impact in the approach of medical care among developing countries. However, there are still many efforts to be made.

C2C site in Haiti.

C2C site in Haiti

The interior of one of the rooms of a Clinic In A Can unit.

Interior of a room in a Clinic In A Can unit.

Standard FORTS Portable Clinic Model.

Standard FORTS Portable Clinic Model.

Each of these non-profit organizations is in need of funds to build these clinics. Not only do the organizations have to restore containers, they have to stock them in ample amounts of medical supplies. They also need medically trained volunteers who are willing to travel around the world to provide care to those who are located far away from hospitals and people who are willing to help build and renovate these clinics. People can help by donating to these organizations themselves, and individuals/companies can even purchase and customize their own. These clinics have helped saved countless of lives in developing countries and is the jumpstart needed to inspire people to take greater strides in helping medical practice in the developing world.

 

Sources:
http://www.clinicinacan.org/
http://inhabitat.com/shipping-container-health-clinics-for-developing-countires/
http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/67573/power-to-the-people-berkeley-couple-brings-light-to-clinics-in-developing-n/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1654092
http://www.oxfam.org/en/campaigns/health-education/primary-healthcare-services


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