Annual Health Caravan benefits 312 people in Imegdal (High Atlas)

By Pommelien da Silva Cosme and Rachid Ait Babahmad

29 May 2020

The rural commune of Imegdal is located in the High Atlas mountains, 75km south of Marrakech. It has an estimated population of 5,537 people (1,156 households) dispersed across 28 remote villages or douars. Unfortunately, they have limited access to public health care. There is one health centre in the Imegdal commune with two full-time nurses and one dispensary providing vaccines and other medicine, but no resident doctor. The closest health centre with a doctor is in the neighbouring commune of Ouirgane, which can be over two hours away from the most isolated villages of Imegdal. The nearest hospital is an additional half hour away from the centre. 

In early March, we organised our second health caravan in Imegdal with lead partner Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods Association (MBLA) and in collaboration with l’Association Momarid électronique and l’Association des Amis du CHU Mohammed VI, two organisations providing better access to healthcare services in Morocco. Over the weekend, we provided medical support to those we had identified as the most vulnerable patients, such as people suffering from heart diseases and diabetes, as well as other urgent cases, during the health caravan carried out in January last year.

On the first day, our team and partners set up a stand to register patients at the Imegdal community centre, in addition to eight consultation rooms and a waiting area. We also installed a temporary pharmacy stocked with over 1000 medicines. Once everything was in place, a medical team of 60 volunteers, including paediatricians, gynaecologists, general practitioners, nurses and an optician, started registering patients for medical consultations.

During the two-day event, we provided free consultations and medicine to 312 patients, of which 66.3% were women and 11.5% were children under the age of 15. The health caravan was successful thanks to the hard work of the entire team. Patients in need of further medical care will be referred to the central hospital in Marrakech.

“This medical caravan is very important for the local population in Imegdal,” says our colleague Rachid who coordinated the event. “Despite the fact that Imegdal has a health centre which is visited by a doctor once a week, people often do not have the means to go to the nearest hospital, which is located in Tahanoute, for required follow up treatment,” he adds. “This initiative was welcomed with great joy and gratitude by the local community, who have encouraged us to organise other similar initiatives, with the support of the association of douars (villages) of Imegdal.”

We would like to thank our partners Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods Association, l’Association Momarid électronique and l’Association des Amis du CHU Mohammed VI for their excellent work and dedication, in addition to the local authorities in Imegdal who facilitated the event and assured important security measures. Since 2017, as part of our High Atlas Cultural Landscapes Programme and with the support of the Darwin Initiative and MAVA Foundation, we have organised three annual health caravans in vulnerable communities in the High Atlas to support the health and wellbeing of the communities where we work, especially during the cold winter months.

Patients arrive for their doctor’s consultation
Testing blood sugar levels
Medical team measuring blood pressure of female patients

Photos by Hamza Zine (MBLA)