"It's Sunday, and we are already on the move in the rural areas of Karatu, the future project area of the Mamabus. Today, we are visiting the Endallah health post. We've just left the colorful Karatu behind, and the Landrover's windows need to be closed as the vehicle is enveloped in a cloud of dust.

The bumpy road to the health post is quite a challenge even for a jeep like ours, let alone for local women who have to travel this route on the back of a motorcycle, in a tuktuk, or in a local minibus. During the rainy season, when everything turns into a big mud puddle, it must be even more of an ordeal, especially for those who are heavily pregnant...

We drive through vast fields where farmers are harvesting their crops. We see an ox cart tipping into a deep trench formed by erosion and stop to help the owner get back on track. We pass more and more groups of laughing children in uniforms and cyclists in their Sunday best, on their way to the local church next to the health post. As we take the turn to the post, joyful gospel music is the first thing we hear.

Upon arrival, the many people waiting on the benches in front of the clinic immediately catch our attention. Most of them have arrived here on the back of a motorcycle, judging by the colorful collection of motorcycles parked under a big tree. The drivers watch us with curious glances.

Meanwhile, Dr. Heriel has arrived and gives us a tour of the new mother and child center next to the clinic. We are impressed by the well-designed center with its necessary facilities. All of this was made possible with the support of the Flemish foundation Misingi and Vincent van Baelen, a lecturer at Thomas More University College in Turnhout.

The Endallah health post is a good place for women with uncomplicated pregnancies to give birth. However, when complications arise, especially if they occur late or unexpectedly, it becomes challenging. Due to the distance and the state of the road network, it is not so straightforward to transport a pregnant woman to the Lutheran Hospital for specialized care.

That's why we see great opportunities here to achieve additional health benefits through ultrasound. Ultrasound can help identify pregnancy complications earlier and more accurately. This allows for a better and faster assessment of when and if a pregnant woman should be referred to the Lutheran Hospital.

By equipping the Mamabus with mobile ultrasound, we can screen not only the pregnant women visiting the health post but also reach women in the (distant) surroundings who would otherwise not come for their prenatal check-ups due to the distance.

Coughing in the dust and nibbling, we head back to Karatu. We've gained a good understanding of the opportunities and have a lot of energy to seize them. We rely on our solid, step-by-step approach. You can read about the results of this in the next blog."


Karatu (2): opportunities in focus