BOLIVIA - MATERNAL CARE FOR HARDEST-TO-REACH RURAL WOMEN
Nearly a decade after
being launched, a program that sends mobile health units down some of
But it’s not just the
geographical differences that contribute to
In an effort to bring services to those women who can’t or won’t visit hospitals, a small team of doctors, registered nurses, drivers, and educators reach more than 100,000 Bolivians, many of who are young women and girls in need of maternal and reproductive health care. Reaching these patients means driving across rocky and unpaved roads, mountainous cliffs, and flooded valleys for 36 weeks per year—all while carrying critical medical supplies and equipment, such as a stretcher, oxygen tank, intravenous kits, pocket-sized ultrasound machines, and medications.
Although many people initially visited the mobile health units to receive general medical care, across the years more women have started seeking sexual and reproductive health care. Most of the services the units provide are Pap smears, pelvic examinations, treatment of sexually transmitted infections, contraceptive services, and prenatal screenings. Recognizing that the mobile health units cannot address all medical needs, CIES works closely with the Ministry of Health to refer high-risk cases, such as pregnancy related complications, to public medical health centers.
In addition to the
proximity, indigenous women and girls continue to seek care at the mobile
health units because they face fewer cultural barriers than conventional
medical clinics. Every staff member speaks the Guarani language—the most
commonly spoken language in
Getting frequent care and becoming better educated about reproductive health is having an impact. According to one local health promoter, the regular arrival of mobile health units is leading to greater use of family planning methods and families choosing to have fewer children.