Clinic-on-wheels helps marginalized in Sana’a

Published on 1 March 2012 in Health & Environment
Malak Shaher (author)

Malak Shaher

Dr. Fatehia Al-Maktari checking up six year old Ayoob inside the clinc-on-wheels last week in Shoob, Sana’a, where a large community of marginalized people live

Dr. Fatehia Al-Maktari checking up six year old Ayoob inside the clinc-on-wheels last week in Shoob, Sana’a, where a large community of marginalized people live

The dark skinned six-year-old Ayoub was waiting outside the medical van with his pregnant mother and his younger brother for a check-up.

Ayoub’s family is commonly known as Akhdam or “servants” in Yemen. They are of African origin and are rarely integrated in Yemeni society, which sees them as inferior. Their exclusion is so extreme that they do not even go to public clinics unless their condition is “critical”.

A large number of Akhdam and other marginalized people live in Shoub, one of the districts targeted by a mobile medical team with the support of USAID.

This month, the Yemen Family Care Association (YFCA), supported by USAID, re-activated three mobile medical teams that were paused during the political crisis Yemen went through last year. In a larger plan, USAID itself has other 15 mobile medical teams targeting remote provinces of all the country’s governorates.

Entering the van, Ayoub was mesmerized by the small mobile medical clinic and submitted himself to the doctor. His mother said it was the first time he had seen a clinic. The doctor gave him an all-clear and gave his mother maternal medical advice to stay healthy through her pregnancy.

Fatehia Al-Maktari, a gynecologist and team member, says that “each place is different in the service it needs most”. In Shoub, where many marginalized people live, health education should come first since these people rarely interact with the rest of society.

“Marginalized people do not usually interact with society as the latter treats them with inferiority,” she explained. “As a result, we try our best to allocate specific days to visit them and encourage them to come to our medical van.”

The team is providing health primary care, maternal and childcare, diagnosis, and free medications. The van is equipped with the necessary medical materials such as an ultrasonography machine, first-aid equipment, antibiotics, family planning pills and coils and basic medications.

The team is made up of Al-Maktari, a general practitioner, a midwife and a lab technician – all working with the YFCA in Sana’a.

Not an easy task for women

Working as a member of a mobile team that specifically targets women, the female doctors have to travel in their on-wheels clinic to rural areas of Sana’a. For Summaya Al-Shawafi, a member of the team and a general practitioner, “it is not an easy task. It is tiring”.

“I had no idea about the mobile medical teams and I did not like the idea of going to far away places every single day. It was so tiring that I wanted to quit,” said Al-Shawafi.

“Yet when I knew that there are patients living in these areas or who cannot reach public clinics easily, I realized how vital the help I am offering really is. So I knew I was doing the right thing,” she concluded.

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