More than 20,000 Patients Treated by Czech Mobile Clinics in 6 Mongolian Aimags, Area Larger than FrancePublished: Sep 25, 2013 Reading time: 5 minutes
Prague (25th September 2013) - Representatives of the Czech Embassy in Mongolia and the People in Need Organization have handed over two other mobile clinics to the provincial hospitals in the Khovsgol and Omnogovi Aimags. The new off-road vehicles will be providing professional healthcare to people in remote areas as they will join the four other mobile clinics that have already been helping people in other four Mongolian provinces.
Since 2011, mobile clinics have provided healthcare to nearly 20, 000 people, who otherwise, due to long distances and harsh environmental conditions, would be able to reach medical help only with great difficulty. All vehicles together provide service to people living in an area larger than France.
The new mobile clinics, which are introduced into the Mongolian countryside by People in Need (PIN) together with the Czech Development Agency, will start assisting in the area immediately. “The paramedics have completed a training course, and later this year two of the new clinics will take 13 field drives each several days,”says Martin Klicnar, head of the PIN mission in Mongolia. The new clinics regularly travel thousands of kilometres around remote districts (sums) while helping with prevention, diagnosis and treatment at local health centres, which often lack essential equipment and even trained staff. The largest Mongolian aimag, Omnogovi, is twice as big as the Czech Republic, and even the relatively small Khovsgol Aimag is larger than Hungary.
And what happens when a mobile clinic arrives at a forgotten Mongolian settlement? Hospitals announce the clinic’s arrival to local GPs at least one month in advance. The doctors then spread the good news among their patients and inform them of the exact date. The rest is done by the local address system and the local people themselves. They make sure that the message is passed on to even the most isolated yurts in the steppes, often as far as tens of kilometres apart. As soon as the doctors unpack their diagnostic equipment in the local health centre, there are already queues of herdsmen and other people waiting for an examination.
The latest equipment and specialists on the same spot
People, who would normally have to travel off-road hundreds of kilometres on horseback or motorbike to get to the regional hospital, suddenly have access not only to ECG, ultrasound and semi-automatic biochemical analysis, but also to professionals who are able to help them with gynaecological, cardiovascular, neurological and even eye diseases - all this on the same spot. “People mostly suffer from peptic ulcers, gallstones, conjunctivitis, thyroid gland disorders, diabetes, liver diseases or toothache,” Martin Klicnar enumerates the most frequent health problems of Mongolian villagers.
Most patients are usually prescribed treatment right on the spot; in emergencies the doctors can also perform minor surgery. However, in more complicated cases, they send patients to sum or aimag hospitals. Typically, every field drive takes three to seven days and the clinic stays in each destination at least one day. On average, one mobile clinic makes two field drives, treats 350 patients and does over 600 kilometres.
Earlier, equipment for the clinics borrowed from the central hospital
‘We used to send doctors and equipment to faraway areas too, but this equipment was then missing in the central hospital because we only have a very limited amount of it,’ Enkhmandakh, director of the regional hospital in the Omnogovi Aimag, says. “Now, we have a modern blood-testing device and various other equipment, which means that we can provide high-quality care even to people living in the remote areas of our region”, explains Chagnaadorj, director of the hospital in the Khovsgol Aimag.
The mobile surgeries are truly appreciated by people from remote sums. The fact that the nearest hospital is usually far away and a motorbike is often the only way of getting there is not the only problem. In winter, some areas are completely cut off from civilisation by snow. The services of mobile clinics are also often used by herdsmen before they set off for a several-month stay in isolated pasture lands, where they naturally have no access to healthcare.
Dozens of experts for the clinics trained
People in Need (PIN) together with the Czech Development Agency have been providing the service of the mobile clinics in the Mongolian countryside for three years. Besides the Khovsgol and Omnogovi Aimags, there are mobile clinics operating in the Zavkhan and Bayankhongor Aimags (since August 2012), and in the Arkhangai and Uvurkhangkai Aimags (since 2011) as well. The money needed for the purchase of the units’ equipment partly comes from Czech private donors, who have long participated in the PIN fundraising campaign Real Aid.
Six aimags, all of them vast regions populated mainly by nomads, have been chosen in cooperation with the Mongolian Ministry of Health. As the density of population is very low, effective provision of proper healthcare is close to impossible. Thus, mobile clinics are a perfect solution as they enable people to access medical care of high-quality.
The project was financed by the funds of the Czech Development Agency and the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ International Development Cooperation Programme. The People in Need Organization not only provided the mobile clinics, but also trained dozens of medical professionals in regional hospitals. Together with the hospitals, they have drawn up a schedule of field drives, a monitoring plan and instruction manuals for operating the equipment.
Mongolian health care
More than a half of the Mongolia’s population of three million live scattered over the Mongolian steppes, mountains and the 1.5 million-km2 Gobi Desert. Due to such low population density, the availability of good-quality healthcare in all areas of the Mongolian countryside is limited and expensive. Even though the primary healthcare is accessible, the possibility of medical check-up by specialists using modern diagnostic equipment and even emergency treatment is still lacking.
For more information, please contact:
Pavla Pijanová, Programme Coordinator in Mongolia, +420 777 457 486