Mobile Clinics Reach Remote Communities in Mozambique

By Michelle Betton | September 2, 2014

A Mozambican woman receives a prescription from a mobile clinic that also serves as a pharmacy.

Michelle Betton/EGPAF

Outside a health post in Mazivila, Mozambique, a large white truck sits, surrounded by about 80 people. The action has already begun. Today, the health workers moving in and out of the truck will be providing the people of this community with services they normally do not have access to: HIV testing and counseling, CD4 count testing, gender-based violence education, and pharmacy services.

In affluent communities, virtually no child is born with HIV. But that is far from the case across the world. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) is making sure the HIV services some take for granted are there for all children no matter where they happened to be born, including in this isolated farming community .

There is a health post in Mazivila, but that facility is limited compared to other clinics and hospitals. With mobile clinics, Mozambicans in remote locations can access the same health services that exist in larger health facilities.

A tent has already been set up alongside the van, where a health care worker is providing HIV counseling and testing. A nurse inside the van calls the names of patients she has written on slips of paper. A dozen people wait to be tested for their CD4 count, which shows how many white blood cells are in the bloodstream, an indicator of the body’s ability to fight infection.

The process moves quickly. Once all testing is complete, the clinic turns into a pharmacy. A door in the back of the truck opens, with a ladder leading to the ground. Maria, one of the nurses, sets up a table in front of the door, pulls out medications, and begins filling prescriptions from health records kept inside the truck. Clients climb the stairs for their prescriptions as their names are called. Technicians inside the truck go through each patient’s record to ensure that each patient is receiving the correct drug regimen.

“We are helping many people,” says Moses Mussane, a mobile clinic technician with EGPAF.

Outside, Almira Nhamtumbo and Anatercia Gilberto speak to a crowd of women and men about gender-based violence. This particular event is part of six days of activities that EGPAF has developed to educate communities.

Anatercia is a police officer tasked with supporting victims of gender-based violence and following up the cases.

“Everywhere we go, she comes with us and speaks about what the police do for people,” says Nhamtumbo, a psychosocial support fellow for EGPAF who helps plan these events. “Sometimes, she meets people here and provides support.”

At the end of a long day, the health workers pack up the truck and drive back to the health facility in Macia, 12 miles away. Tomorrow, the work continues.

In 2004, EGPAF began working in Mozambique with a prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program in Nampula and Gaza provinces. EGPAF and its local affiliate (Fundação Ariel Glaser contra o SIDA Pediátrico) now work in four provinces, supporting the Ministry of Health to strengthen PMTCT services.