06 September 2019 – The World Health Organization (WHO) supports health partners to deliver primary healthcare services to over 12,000 people in the West Bank through mobile clinics. With funding from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, two mobile clinics, run by CARE international and Health Work Committee, are providing basic life-saving services and laboratory tests, women’s healthcare, mental health and psychosocial support, family planning services and health education. WHO also supported procurement of medical supplies to help the mobile clinics to work more efficiently and ensure people can access essential medicines needed for treatment and prevention.
The mobile clinics reach 19 vulnerable communities in the West Bank. For most of them, this is the only source of receiving much needed health care. A few months ago, residents of Kherbet Zakhariya community were cut off from access to even essential health services and medical supplies. Now, a mobile team visits the village three times a week, one of which is dedicated to women’s health.
“It is critical for everyone in our community to have access to health services. We spent over a year and a half without any mobile clinic coming,” says Mohammad Sa’ed, a community leader of Kherbet Zakhariya. He benefits from the mobile clinics visits himself: “I was not visiting any hospital for check-ups when services were unavailable in our village. When the clinic started operating, they discovered I have high blood pressure and prediabetes. Now I come to the mobile clinics for regular check-ups and to receive prescribed medicines and better nutrition advice – this keeps me in better health.”
Abir Sa’ed brought her 4-year old daughter for a follow-up visit: “Last week my daughter had an ear infection, we came to the clinic for consultation. A doctor provided her with medicine, and she is feeling much better now. Before the clinic started visiting us, we used to go to Beit Fajjar or Bethlehem, which was hard because the transportation is not easy to find. Now, the situation is much better, and we can receive health care quickly.”
People from the community receive text messages about the mobile clinic visit, but often passing of information through word of mouth is more effective. “When we come to the community, people start spreading the message that the mobile clinic arrived,” says Dr Ghandi Al Tamimi, a doctor with one of the mobile clinics. “There are people who live too far or have certain health conditions and cannot come. I call them “the marginalized of the marginalized”. We do home visits for them.”
Each mobile clinic provides around 10-15 consultations a day. Dr Al Tamimi says chronic diseases are the most common among populations they visit.
The mobile clinics also offer women psychosocial support alongside health services to respond to the needs of women affected by gender-based violence and provide information on violence prevention. “In my work, I focus on women, young girls and children who have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence,” says Raihana Mesyef, a psychosocial worker with a mobile clinic. “We have both community meetings, where I provide an overview of violence, its different forms and types and answer most common questions, and one-on-one meetings where a woman can talk about her experience and I can provide advice on how to deal with it.”
Currently, 162,663 people in the West Bank have limited access to primary health care. An estimated 138,000 people in Area C* receive primary health care services through mobile clinics supported by the Ministry of Health and Health Cluster partners, but uncertainties of funding cast doubt over the sustainability of these services. WHO will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and partners to support the provision of essential primary health care services to the most vulnerable communities.
*Over 60% of the West Bank is considered Area C, where Israel retains near exclusive control, including over law enforcement, planning and construction.