During field visits, awareness is also raised about child nutrition, the importance of vaccinations, family planning and childbirth with medical support. It is therefore important that not only people with medical needs attend, but that as many people as possible are present to receive information.
"Every month, the head of the health centre calls me to inform me of the arrival of the medical team. In turn, I pass on the message to the village chiefs concerned. To summon the population, they use the megaphone of the mosque and go around the village on foot to warn others. When the health workers arrive, everyone is already gathered here," says Mamata Idé, who runs the health post at Alfaguey Belandé.
Mamata Idé has done this on her own since the health post was established in 2007 for a population of over 2,000. A heavy workload, especially during the rainy season when malaria is rife.
"I am the only health worker working at this post but I get help from two midwives. Without the monthly field visits, I would not be able to manage. Their support strengthens our team. They bring supplies like gas for the little fridge where measles vaccines, among other things, are stored. If they don't come, people have to walk all the way to the health centre in Tanda, which is 24 kilometres there and back."
Oumarou Garba, mayor of a village on the island of Lété in the middle of the Niger River, is also keen to see the care teams. "We used to have to travel as far as Gaya for medical help. That is 40 kilometres away on the mainland," he explains. "We used to do this with a cart pulled by a donkey. Now the medical teams are coming to the island. Sick people are helped, pregnant women are assisted, the general health of my fellow villagers has much improved.”