Serbia: Mobile Medical Clinic
1,724 Health Consults Performed: Q2 2019
October 23, 2019
Dr. Dragana Marković and the RMF Balkans Team
Summary of Activities
Since January 2016, RMF Balkans has been responding to the refugee crisis in Serbia by providing comprehensive protection and medical services to persons of concern. Our teams began by working 24/7 throughout the Belgrade city center. Once most refugees/migrants in the area were relocated to refugee camps, RMF Balkans and its medical services moved to the camps along with our patients.
Currently, our team of doctors and medical support workers, and cultural mediators/translators is working primarily at Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre, the largest refugee camp in Serbia, which is home to over 800 refugee boys and men on average. In addition to hiring all of our staff in-country, RMF Balkans also benefits the local community through our projects by providing temporary jobs; for example, more than 100 people were involved in our renovation of Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre, which was completed in July 2018. RMF also extends our support to the host community on a case-by-case basis, by providing hygiene kits and medicines to those in need.
RMF Balkans’ activities can be divided into two programs:
- Medical Support: RMF Infirmary
- Referral Support: Referrals to primary, secondary and tertiary health care facilities, as well as cultural mediation, translation, and transportation services
Medical Support: Our team of doctors performed 1,724 health consultations at our infirmary in the Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre during this reporting period.
Referral Support: RMF Balkans continues to provide referral services, translation, and interpretation services to refugees and acts as a cultural mediator between them and public institutions in Serbia. RMF Balkans transports, escorts and refers refugees and asylum seekers to primary, secondary, and tertiary medical care facilities in Belgrade. During the second quarter of 2019, 281 people were referred to those facilities, which is significantly more than the previous quarter’s total of 139. Through various partnerships and projects, RMF also continued to support the work of the Institute of Public Health of Serbia, the Ministry of Health, relevant Serbian health institutions, and NGOs.
Medical Support Program
1,724 Consultations this Quarter
The RMF Balkans team provides primary healthcare services from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM, seven days a week. By providing a medical team consisting of 1-2 doctors, 1 cultural mediator/translator, and 2 drivers, 20 to 40 health consultations can be facilitated per shift, as well as referrals to secondary and tertiary care facilities.
During this reporting period, RMF Balkans performed 1,724 health consultations in the Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre and in Belgrade city center.
A New Infirmary
Renovating Unused Space
Because of technical challenges, the Mobile Medical Clinic ceased operations on February 4, 2019. To continue with our medical support program in the Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre, our team renovated and equipped one ample, unused space in the camp, which we transformed into an infirmary. As a result of excellent cooperation with the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, we were able to continue our work in this new and fully equipped infirmary.
Many Services Provided
Translation and Transportation
RMF Balkans also provides interpretation and translation services to refugees at Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre and in the Belgrade city center. In addition, we provide medical transportation and escort services to primary, secondary, and tertiary medical care facilities in both Belgrade and Obrenovac from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM, Monday through Friday.
During this reporting period, 281 people were referred to medical care facilities in Belgrade and Obrenovac.
Supporting Local Institutions
Coordinating Health Care
RMF Balkans continues to support the Institute of Public Health of Serbia, the Ministry of Health, relevant health institutions, and partner NGOs in the coordination of health care provision. Transportation and escort services to secondary and tertiary care institutions continue to be a key challenge for the Ministry of Health and Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, and RMF Balkans is still the only organization providing these services for refugees and migrants.
Strengthening Healthcare Systems
Collaborative Meetings Held
RMF Balkans continued to participate in monthly health cluster meetings in Belgrade, conducted by the Ministry of Health and supported by the World Health Organization and the heads of Serbian health centers. At the meetings, we assessed and discussed medical needs, priorities, and service gaps for this period in an effort to build the capacity of health systems to respond to the refugees and migrant situation. We also participated in weekly coordination meetings conducted in Obrenovac by the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration.
Illnesses Treated at Infirmary
URIs, Wounds, and Skin Infections
During this reporting period, RMF doctors treated 642 patients with acute upper respiratory tract infections (URIs), such as the common cold, pharyngitis, rhinitis, sinusitis, and tonsillitis. The most common symptoms during this period were sore throat, rash, runny nose, fever, productive and dry cough, headache, and muscle ache. Our team also treated 85 beneficiaries with different types of wounds and insect bites. Due to poor hygiene and living conditions in the camps, 89 patients were treated for scabies and 124 patients for local skin infections.
RMF provides primary healthcare and emergency triage services at our Obrenovac Transit Centre mobile medical clinic from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM, 5 days a week. The work is implemented by a medical team consisting of 1 to 2 doctors, 1 cultural mediator/translator, and 2 drivers. This ensures that emergency cases arriving at the clinic can immediately access referrals to secondary and tertiary care facilities. By providing primary healthcare services, referrals, and cultural mediation, RMF improves the wellbeing of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers in Belgrade and Obrenovac.
- Improve the health status and overall wellbeing of refugees in Obrenovac Reception and Transit Centre and greater Belgrade.
- Provide medical and translation services to refugees and act as cultural mediators for them at public institutions in Serbia.
- Refer, transport, and escort refugees and asylum seekers to secondary and tertiary medical care facilities in Belgrade.
Click to enlarge
Ali Usman, 26
Daily Therapy Aids His Recovery
Ali Usman is a 26-year-old man from Pakistan. Our team first met Usman when he was carried to the clinic by his friends. We immediately saw that he was seriously injured, as his right leg was swollen, blue, and very painful. He told us that he jumped out of a moving train while trying to cross the border. He was immediately transported to the Emergency Department of the Clinical Center of Serbia, where he was diagnosed with a fracture of the right leg and had a cast applied. Every day, our team visited Usman in his room to check his condition and to give him his daily therapy. Our mobile team has supported Usman during his recovery and through each step of his orthopedic treatment.
Khalid Benali, 25
Daily Dressing Changes Heal Wound
Khalid Benali is a 25-year-old man from Tunisia. Khalid seriously injured his left arm while he was trying to jump over a hedge at the border with Hungary and cut his left palm with a wire. He did not seek medical assistance immediately, so his wound was not treated properly. He came to our clinic a few days after the injury, and his wound was deep and still open. We decided to take him to see a surgeon, who said that Khalid required an operation to reconnect the skin and allow for normal healing. Now, Khalid comes to our clinic to have his bandage changed every day, and his wound is almost healed.
Kifayat Khan, 22
Tuberculosis Treatment Resumed
Kifayat Khan is a 22-year-old man from Afghanistan. At the beginning of the year, while Kifayat was on his trip through Greece, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He received treatment for three months, after which he decided to continue his trip to Western Europe. He was stuck at the border for a few months, so he remained without treatment for his condition. When he finally arrived in Serbia, he came to our clinic seeking help. When we heard his story, we transported him to the pulmonologist the next day. Necessary diagnostic procedures were performed, and he is now receiving treatment once more. Kifayat is deeply grateful for everything RMF has done for him.