According to the World Health Organization, the top 5 killer diseases in Nigeria besides HIV/AIDS are: lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis and complications from the flu; malaria; diarrhea, yes, diarrhea; and measles. It’s also kind of obvious that it will take us quite a while before Nigeria will be having uproarious congress discussions regarding free healthcare or health insurance reform or any other thing of the sort. Here’s an idea: Mobile clinics! This idea is replicable throughout Africa and is already in use in Swaziland to reach HIV/AIDS patients.
Equip a van to diagnose and treat these 5 diseases. The van will drive around a city or into remote villages. You don’t even need doctors. It can be called “Nurses on Wheels!” Mobile clinics could charge standardized prices for their services. For instance, the first 15 minutes of a consult are free. Consults lasting longer than 15 minutes cost $1 per 15 minutes. A prescription for drugs would cost $0.50 and patients could instantly fill their prescription at the van if the drug is available. Various lab tests would also have their respective prices. A general checkup could take say 20 minutes and cost $5.
People can sign up to get significant savings if they pay a monthly or yearly fee – essentially providing them basic health insurance. The mobile clinic can be linked to hospitals to which a nurse can email, call or send a note to refer a patient. The clinic would also keep records of every visit and thereby create electronic health records that can be accessed from any mobile clinic van. So say you’re downtown but you live outside the city, the mobile nurse or doctor you run into can easily look up your name and find any needed information to help you.
What are your thoughts? I’m not a health professional so feel free to correct any unfounded notions about providing healthcare that I may have.