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Bring Back the Community Health Clinics!

While we wait for all the new Health minister and the anticipated utopia that would follow, it would be nice to add more issues to her to do list.

Growing up in a very rural part of Nigeria, our only source of health care was a “dispenser”. This man/woman probably a well trained nurse practitioner now that I think about it. He was the-go-to person for all health issues that could not be resolved by the traditional medicine men and herbalists who reigned supreme in our environment.

I remembered clearly when i had close to a second degree burn,how he nursed me back to health, I remembered several other visits to the health center for varied ailments, immunizations, and even visit to see newborn babies in the nearby maternity.

As medical students we were bussed to community health clinics for 4week long rotations, more like fact finding missions and not direct patient care/ contact events. it was good while it lasted, the memories still linger.

Learning they say is a continuum, and I have adapted my learning to look only at things that work and see how it can be improved on, while balancing the act of not re-inventing the wheel.

This week I had the opportunity of wandering into a community health clinic run completely by residents and volunteers ( volunteerism in Nigeria that is a topic for another day). It took me back to my childhood.

Community health clinics run by residents: could this work in our environment?, Is this a model that we could look more closely at. On further investigation, I found out that the residents had to transport themselves to these clinics ( about 25miles away from their primary hospital), 4 residents rotate for three years every Monday from 1:00-5:30pm or until all the patients are seen whichever comes first.

So many community health models abound, and there is no need to re-invent the wheel, rather we should use what works modified for our environment.

Dr Paul Farmer for so many years have also worked on his model of community health clinics,in so many countries, Haiti, Peru, Rwanda, USA, Russia. Now “THE MODEL” of community health clinics. Read more at . He has training manuals, budget information, evaluation materials and so many information about setting up a successful community health clinic, absolutely FREE for all comers, this can be accessed at .

Knowledge they say is power, now the new health minister would not have any reason for failing our under served population, whenever he/she comes on board.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

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