Mobile Clinics in Lima
Updated: Sep 7, 2019
Saturday is a work day here in Peru, and so there was no sleeping in to start the weekend. I was up early to take a taxi to one of the poorer parts of Lima, the Callao district.
I met Yenny there and together, we sought out the mobile clinic that we were going to work at. Once we had found the correct street in the municipality of La Perla, it really was not difficult to spot the mobile clinic. La Liga’s mobile clinics are large trucks, and they are colored a bright pink. There was definitely more color on the truck than in all the rest of my field of view.
La Liga's bright pink mobile clinic truck.
La Liga Contra el Cancer uses mobile clinics to increase access to women’s healthcare in the lower-income areas of Lima. The truck parks itself for a week at a time in different parts of a district, and women can come to the clinic between 9am and 2pm to undergo screening for HPV, cervical cancer, and breast cancer. The services were provided for free!
By bringing the clinic to the people’s doorsteps, La Liga looked to increase the number of women screened for these diseases. Screening rates are ostensibly very low, even though early detection of breast or cervical cancer could proffer significant health benefits.
The mobile clinic was small but the space was well-utilized. It was an example in efficiency; a small reception area and the procedure room were the essence of the clinic. There were just two working staff in the truck; both midwives. While comprehensive, it was true that the services offered at the mobile clinic were limited by the lack of a physician.But hopefully that would change with the eventual introduction of the POCkeT colposcope and other such innovations. Midwives are already trained to insert speculums, and it really would not be difficult to train them to use our portable colposcope. Then, colposcopy, now done only in hospitals, could be brought to these neighborhoods and the images could be remotely diagnosed by gynecologists. Access to women’s healthcare could be further enhanced.
Again, the importance of midwives in the healthcare system is underscored. It is only through the dedicated work of the midwives that La Liga has been able to operate multiple mobile clinics, each staffed by just two midwives who work six times a week. They have already done so much to increase access to healthcare in Lima, but by equipping them with devices like the POCkeT colposcope, they can be further empowered to change lives.
The midwives hard at work. Yenny (center) is one of our collaborators and has been a very welcoming friend.