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Shipping containers transformed into health centre saves lives
Last year, Concern built a new life-saving health clinic using old shipping containers in just three months in one of the hottest and poorest parts of the world; Chad.
One of the hottest, hardest places to live on the planet
Chad is a landlocked country in central Africa. It is the fifth-largest country in Africa and more than half the country lies in the Sahel and Sahara deserts, the largest hot desert in the world.
It has one of the highest levels of hunger in the world with 66.2 percent of its population of 15.5 million people living in extreme poverty. Chad is ranked 187th out of 189 countries in the UN Human Development Index for 2020 and as the fourth hungriest country in the world on the Global Humanitarian Index. Malnourishment and stunted growth among children is also very high and this is coupled with poor access to health services and basic education.
Ongoing conflict and climate change are the primary factors for Chad’s high levels of poverty. Chad is also surrounded by countries in conflict, which include the Central African Republic, Sudan, Cameroon and Libya. This has resulted in hundreds of thousands of refugees entering Chad despite it having limited resources
The transformed shipping container transforming lives
Seeing the desperate medical needs of families living at one particular site for people feeling conflict in western Chad, with children suffering from malnutrition and many people falling ill – along with the threat posed by Covid-19 – Concern knew it had to act fast.
Using old cargo shipping containers, Concern was able to create a permanent health clinic to cater for over 30,000 people. It opened in September 2021 and provides free primary care, including a maternity unit, treatment for malnutrition, vaccinations and a pharmacy. The containers were also designed to remain cool inside as daytime temperatures outside can sometimes reach over 40C. This is done by constructing a straw-covered second roof above each container that keeps it cool inside.
There are children smiling today who would have been otherwise seriously ill or worse had we not built this health post so quickly.
“This health post is absolutely essential", Laurent continued. "There are over 30,000 people here who need and deserve health care and there are new arrivals every day who have left everything behind to find refuge from conflict.
"These are people who often arrive with nothing, have experienced violence and trauma and who are desperate for a safe place for them and their families to live. Some lost loved ones on the way. Many develop health problems, due to the harsh conditions they are living in.”
Prior to the new health post, Concern had a mobile health clinic that visited the area twice a week, but it wasn’t enough and queues were extremely long. Additionally, illnesses like malaria and malnutrition were becoming increasingly common.
One of the health post’s first patients, a woman named Fatime who is five months pregnant, said: “This is my first time to come for a prenatal consultation. My youngest daughter died from childbirth, but this health post brings hope to me, for my unborn baby and for our community.”
Another patient, Fanta, who arrived at Fourkoulom after her husband died added: “Thank goodness we now have a health clinic where we can go day or night if we are ill. I have no money to go anywhere else so this is the only support possible for me and my family.”
Laurent explained that the prefabricated shipping containers were used because they could be quickly deployed. Concern offices in the region are also old unused cargo containers.
He added: “They are quick and easy to install and can be moved if necessary. When I saw it was working well for us I thought it would be good for a health post too and we are all delighted that it is now open and making a difference.”
The Fourkoulom health post is also open to the local host population who live in a nearby village and who have provided food and other aid to the internally displaced people who arrive in the settlement.
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