Driving Health: Heroes at the wheel of mobile medical trucks in Ivory Coast

May 9, 2018
Driving Health: Heroes at the wheel of mobile medical trucks in Ivory Coast

On our trip to Ivory Coast this past October (to deliver the LifeStraw Community filters from last year's Clean Water Project), we had the incredible opportunity to see in-person some of the initiatives that our Sustainable Cocoa Program helps support, like Farmer Field Schools and the mobile medical trucks.

We also got to meet the local community heroes who help others get the medicine and care they need. Their names? Francis (on the left, in the red shirt) and Siaka (on the right, in the white shirt), pictured above with Michelle, our National Marketing Manager.

Francis and Siaka are part of the incredible team that runs the Cocoa Horizons mobile medical trucks. The Cocoa Horizons Foundation is a non-profit organization that's funded through donations and through the purchase of sustainable cocoa. Cocoa Horizons works closely with on-the-ground partners in rural cocoa-growing communities to implement initiatives that match the needs of each community.

They also work with the local doctor in each region ahead of time to get information on the kinds of medications the region might need to be brought in. Once those are purchased—Cocoa Horizons pays for all the medications and resources needed to run the trucks—the team schedules a visit from a mobile medical truck.

On top of bringing much-needed medications, the trucks act as mobile clinics for local doctors and nurses. It's here that visitors to the clinic can get checks for malaria, get the medications they need and talk about any health concerns they have with the doctor and nurses.

And it doesn't stop there. At night, the medical truck transforms into a theatre and education centre that hosts modules on farming best practices such as the GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) module, which covers cocoa tree pruning and maintenance (which branches to prune, how to distribute leaves around the base of the tree), safe use of pruning tools and fertilizers.

Francis teaches the education modules, which start with a video played on the side of the truck and feature a Q&A section and trivia games with the cocoa farmers. The entire village is welcome to attend—and often does.

The module ends in a way that all educational segments should: with music and dancing that goes on into the early hours of the morning.