SEATTLE — Mozambique, a country located on the southeastern border of Africa, is sparsely populated with approximately 26 million people. Only about 32.2 percent of the total population lives in urban areas. Most families are sporadically distributed throughout rural areas.
Based on a study conducted by Antonio Luis and Pedro Cabral in 2016, about 90.2 percent of Mozambique citizens lack walking accessibility to a healthcare clinic, and 66.9 percent are not within reasonable driving distance of a clinic.
HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and childhood malnutrition are not only a threat to the public but also highly prevalent. Healthcare in Mozambique is not an option for those unable to travel. In the end, suffering individuals do not receive the necessary treatment for survival.
There are a number of reasons as to why Mozambique was and is lacking an even distribution of clinics throughout the region. First, Mozambique is struggling to recover from a difficult year for their economy. 2016 saw a sharp decrease in economic growth. On top of that, there were cuts to the investment budget. This hurt the economic and social sectors. Mozambique is dependent on private and public investment projects to improve the financial sphere for not only the government and businesses, but at the household level as well. While the government is certainly fighting to lift up its economy, a lack of growth makes it harder to invest in the continued development of healthcare in Mozambique.
The geography of many rural locations makes it very difficult to start and complete health centers. Construction teams must have adequate resources to trek across rough terrain and long distances with their supplies. Between 2014 and 2016, USAID worked to build 15 additional health centers in rural areas of the country, including in Arijuana. Arijuana is a five-hour drive from the closest main highway. In late November, when there is heavy rainfall, the main road is flooded due to its close proximity to offshoots of the Zambezi River. It takes determination and hard work to complete projects such as these. However, with the right tools, geography is something that only slows down the process. It does not make it impossible.
One final point to highlight why healthcare in Mozambique is struggling to make headway is because of unfortunate attacks on health facilities. In 2016, there were rising tensions between the government and a rebel group known as RENAMO. Men linked to this rebel group carried out a number of raids in hospitals and health clinics. They stole essential medicines and supplies and broke life-saving equipment. This has threatened thousands of people who are trying to access an already-limited healthcare system.
However, with hundreds of thousands dying each year because of treatable and preventable diseases, the drive to increase access cannot stop now. There is a resourceful and ingenious plan in place to accomplish this mission. Rather than trying to build numerous health centers for people to travel to, mobile health clinics are bringing treatments to the people. Generally the size of trucks, health workers are assigned a number of locations to travel to every week in order to bring supplies and services that people normally do not have access to. They provide HIV testing, CD4 count testing, gender-based violence education and pharmacy services, to name a few.
Mobile clinics provide many benefits: cost-effective prevention services, on-site counseling and better opportunities to reach those in rural areas that cannot travel for treatment. The mobilization of portable healthcare clinics is bringing about great change in Mozambique. It is delivering results while organizations and the government work to fund permanent facilities in close proximity to these isolated locations.
– Caysi Simpson