Health Innovations: Mobile Clinics
Hear from Amref's Head of
Programmes, Steve Murigi
On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared a coronavirus pandemic. Two and a half years on, I’d like to reflect on how you have helped Amref to support people affected by COVID-19 – and how our work in this area continues.
I'd also like to share a little of my own story...
Steve Murigi, Head of Programmes at Amref UK
"I grew up with my grandmother in rural Kenya and experienced first-hand the devastating impact of a fragmented and under-resourced health system."
"After first learning about Amref in school, I went on to join the organisation in Nairobi. Since then – during my 15+ years working with Amref in Africa, and now the UK – I’ve witnessed Amref help millions of people affected by diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS."
COVID-19 is like nothing else. One of the huge challenges with vaccination coverage is that 70% of Africa’s population reside in rural areas, like the one I grew up in.
With a widespread footprint, local workforce and existing technology, Amref has been uniquely placed to take on this challenge. Our pioneering mobile-learning platform, Leap1, has proven invaluable – enabling us to rapidly mobilise health workers at scale, and to reach remote communities.
Another challenge has been vaccine inequity. While COVID-19 spread across Africa, availability of the vaccines was limited to countries in the global north.
Our bold stance on this topic saw Amref invited to share our expertise with media platforms including Bloomberg, Channel 4 News, Sky News, and CNN International – ensuring the voices of the communities we serve were heard by global audiences.
Go to 11:57 to hear Steve Murigi discuss the importance of building up Africa's manufacturing capabilities and more!
In 2021, we called on our supporters to stand in Vaccine Solidarity with Africa, launching a campaign in support of our COVID-19 vaccination work.
Since then, we’ve been working to create the conditions for a successful continent-wide vaccination drive, including:
• training health workers to administer the vaccine and to manage data
• transporting doses to increase access in remote regions
• raising awareness within communities to dispel fears and create demand
“With only 20% of Africa’s population fully vaccinated, the pandemic isn’t over.”2
In 2021, Amref's supporters helped to...
COVID-19 continues to place a burden on existing health systems, with this effect being named by some a ‘shadow pandemic’. This has brought with it a need to think outside of the box.
In Kenya, in June 2022, Amref Health Innovations – the branch of Amref that is focused on finding new solutions to existing health challenges – launched a fleet of Mobile Vaccination Clinics. The initiative has been supported by AstraZeneca and Kenya’s Ministry of Health and has been operational throughout the summer.
The movable clinics are bringing COVID-19 vaccines and other health services to hard-to-reach communities across Kenya. Each one is vaccinating over 150 people per day – meaning the 10 mobile clinics are reaching more than 1,500 people every day.
Bridging the gaps between people and healthcare
As well as providing COVID-19 vaccines, the clinics will raise awareness and support people living with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes and high blood pressure.
When not being used for COVID-19 community outreach, the clinics will support existing public health infrastructure by serving as fixed health centres, reducing the burden on local health facilities – many of which are under-resourced.
There are also plans to increase the number of mobile clinics, and to replicate them in other countries.
1Leap is an integrated mobile health platform – compatible with both basic and smart mobile phones – used to train health workers through educational courses, regular updates and peer-to-peer communication. One of its critical advantages is the ability to rapidly mobilise health workers at scale in the event of an emergency disease outbreak – even in the most remote areas of a country. For this reason, Leap was commissioned by governments across sub-Saharan Africa as part of COVID-19 emergency responses.
2 As of 11 August 2022 – and versus 63% fully vaccinated worldwide [Africa CDC / Our World in Data]
[Image credits: CHW Mariam at Kibera health centre (c) Brian Otieno; Covid-19 vaccine drive, Kenya (c) Leonardo Mangia; Mobile clinic launch, Kibera (c) Kennedy Musyoka; Community Health Worker Mariam (c) Kevin Gitonga]