By Noora Jussila, IFRC
The crowd gathers soon after Issam Jelassi has parked the minivan. This is not just any minivan, but a Japanese custom-made minivan that serves as a mobile health clinic for the Tunisian Red Crescent.
Testing one’s blood sugar levels has probably never been more exciting, judging by the queue that soon forms outside the clinic. Patients flow in from the rear end of the van and out from the front, after their blood pressure, blood sugar and weight are tested.
Usually, the mobile health clinic takes health services to rural areas, where people have difficulties accessing health services. Very basic services are however needed also in the cities, like here in Ben Gardane.
Tunisian Red Crescent advertises the mobile health clinic visits on Facebook and television, but the word spreads around quickly once the mobile health clinic parks somewhere.
“These people would not go to a hospital by themselves to get everything checked. They are not used to going to see doctors, but when they see this clinic they want to see what is happening and this way we convince them to get the very basics such as hypertension and blood sugar checked,” says nurse Bouzrati Fethi, who has volunteered with the Tunisian Red Crescent for more than 20 years.
This is exactly what happened with Chandoul Mohsen, who works is a shop across the street from where the clinic is parked.
“I saw that something is going on and came to see what this is,” he says. He admits that it has been years since he last had his blood pressure and sugar tested.
Chandoul’s blood sugar levels were a little high, indicating a potential risk of diabetes. Tunisian Red Crescent volunteer doctor Regori Abdelkerim tells Chandoul to cut down the sweets, eat healthier and exercise more – and remember not to miss his health check once a year.
Patients who have worryingly high levels of blood pressure, blood sugar or other indicators of chronic diseases are encouraged to visit a hospital for treatment and follow-up.
“If I would go to a hospital, it would take me half a day even for a basic health check like this. Here it took me only half an hour – it’s very convenient! It feels good to know that everything is okay with me,” he says with a big smile on his face.
Tunisian Red Crescent provides its mobile health clinic service to rural communities every few weeks. The vehicle and equipment is a donation from the People of the Japan, and was sent fully equipped from Japan. The Tunisian Red Crescent mobile health clinic is also supported by the IFRC.