For many people, the first they see of Dr Mesbha Ahmed is his rainbow umbrella.

Carrying the umbrella, he walks through the sprawling camp that’s now home to almost 700,000 people who fled their homes in Myanmar last August.

In the camp’s heat and dust, diseases can spread quickly.

To help, the Red Cross and our partners the Bangladesh Red Crescent run a surgical field hospital and eight clinics. Together, they treat thousands of patients.

Then one day a week, Dr Ahmed’s mobile clinic reaches people who can’t get to the other health centres.

So when families see the doctor’s bright umbrella, they know that his clinic is ready to help.

Here, Dr Ahmed explains how the mobile clinic helps save lives.

What does the mobile clinic do?

Dr Meshba Ahmed treats the foot of a young child held by his mother in a Red Cross mobile clinic

© AJ Ghani/British Red Cross

“Every day is different,” Dr Ahmed said.

“We have many patients, all with a variety of circumstances. Our two doctors, three nurses and volunteers from the Bangladesh Red Crescent care for pregnant women and children.

“Diarrhoea is the most common disease here for the people because they may have to drink dirty water.

“The people come here and we provide them with good management for diarrhoea or breathing problems.

“We also manage chronic diseases.

“Families can get cared for at the same time – I recently treated a woman who was having trouble sleeping and felt unwell. At the same time, I helped her four-year-old daughter with an infected foot.

“We also treat people with health emergencies.

“Recently, I treated a man with chronic liver disease, someone with tuberculosis, and a young woman who was bleeding dangerously.

“If patients are really sick and we can’t treat them here, we will refer them to the emergency hospital. There is even a special ‘tom tom’ (taxi) that can take the most poorly people to hospital directly.”

Why is the clinic important?

Dr Meshba Ghani listens to a young girls chest with a stethoscope in the Red Cross mobile clinic for people who fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh

© AJ Ghani/British Red Cross

“This is the only medical help people have access to. It would not be good if this clinic wasn’t here.

“It is so important for people. Since October, over 108,000 people have been treated at the Red Cross and Red Crescent clinics and emergency hospital.

“We have found so many types of diseases in the community, and we have provided good management. The clinic is really important to help stop the spread of waterborne diseases and prevent more people from becoming sick.

“Treating emergency cases is also really important.

“Between this clinic and the larger field hospital there is a big distance, so it’s very important. Without emergency healthcare at the clinic, many people’s lives would be in great danger.”

What will happen during monsoon season?

Dr Meshba Ahmed walks through a camp in Bangladesh carrying a rainbox umbrella

© AJ Ghani/British Red Cross

“I have seen an increase in the cases of severe diarrhoea, which worries me, particularly during monsoon season.

“We think a lot about a cholera outbreak too, but we have plans in place to manage this.

“We are also worried about the most vulnerable people ahead of the cyclone and monsoon season.

“Another big challenge will be access to the clinic, both for us and for the patients.

“Walking to reach the clinic will be difficult for everyone with the mud and rain washing out the pathways. This is worrying, especially as we know how important the clinic is to the people who need it.”

Why do you do this work?

Dr Meshba Ahmed sits at a table with a stethoscope around his neck in a Red Cross and Red Crescent clinic in Bangladesh for people who fled Myanmar

© AJ Ghani/British Red Cross

“To reach the clinic, we have to travel through the camp every day.

“It’s boiling hot during the sunny season, and even worse in the rainy season.

“But it’s not a big deal for me to do it.

“We come here for humanitarian activities, to support people. These people have no one to treat them without us. We have to maintain our humanitarian responsibilities.

“I am proud to work in this type of humanitarian activity. As a doctor it is an opportunity to help the people here.”

Thank you to Hanna Lange-Chenier and Teresa Goncalves for your help in writing this blog.