Mobilizing Masks for Malawi
Today, September 1st, marks the first day since April that the mobile outreach clinic will return to its routine schedule. Remote villages who have lacked access to medical treatment for the past four months will be tended to again. Orant’s clinicians are eager to see their patients again. Still, the return is one laced with unease.
Typically, mobile clinics draw large crowds. Many villagers need to see a doctor, but many also gather just to socialize. During the pandemic, however, gathering into large groups is unsafe. Since the virus is likely spread through particles in the air, crowds naturally increase people’s exposure risk. As Orant prepares the mobile clinic to operate again, it must mitigate these risks. While Orant does want to leave remote villagers without medical attention, it’s also wary of the dangers of encouraging public gathering.
The Masks for Malawi initiative is preparing clinicians and local volunteers for mobility as best as it can. The mobile staff will bring 200 masks each day to distribute to patients. Orant is hopeful that the mobile outreach clinic will serve an additional role now: one of spreading awareness, disseminating masks, and encouraging social distancing practices. Orant’s trusted health professionals will encourage mask-wearing in each rural village they visit. With this practice, Orant is likely to set a strong example and make a considerable impact on virus safety measures. But the mobile clinic will need more than 200 masks to protect its clinicians and supply all villages with masks.
Orant needs to increase mask production capacity. Last week, Orant scouted two more seamstresses to join the team. Thanks to the generosity of donors, the Masks for Malawi campaign has raised over $5,000 thus far. Orant has already hired 2 tailors, Chisoni and Bright, each with one assistant. They’ve sewn 3762 masks in total, at about 60 masks each a day each. With the additional two seamstresses at work, and with donations still streaming in, Orant anticipates finishing an average of 240 masks a day.
By mobilizing mask distribution, Orant will encourage much-needed prevention efforts in rural villages in Central Malawi. With time, villagers will learn the clinician’s social distancing requirements. And when social distancing measures are respected, masks are distributed, and people are kept safe, the mobile clinic team will feel more confident in returning to its normal routine.