Community Health Worker Ramadhan Bakari cares for 522 people across 105 households in Kakamega County, Western Kenya. But when walking up to 8 km to see each patient, he could visit only a few homes per day.
Things changed in July 2015 when the Malaha Dispensary and Health Center, in partnership with Africa Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) Kenya, received 30 Buffalo Bicycles to strengthen its community health systems.
Trips to patients’ homes became 10 minutes instead of an hour or more. And healthcare workers can now visit up to 30 homes a day.
Role of bicycles in healthcare
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are crucial healthcare providers in rural Africa. CHWs visit patients at home, transport patients to medical facilities, and provide preventative education and care.
Their work is especially vital for children born in sub-Saharan Africa, who are 12 times more likely than their counterparts in high-income countries to die before their 5th birthday. The region has 11% of the world’s population but carries 24% of the global disease burden. It lacks the infrastructure to provide even basic healthcare to many of its people.
To fulfill their responsibilities, CHWs often walk long distances over rough terrain and in inclement weather. As a result, fewer people get the care they need.
But with a bicycle, healthcare workers can reach 45% more patients and travel four times farther than on foot, research shows.
At the Malaha Dispensary, Clinic Manager Dr. Bernard Ochanda says 60 bicycles are as valuable as one car. Bicycles can cover more territory and serve more people.
Many times, “the bicycle is used in getting the mothers into the clinic for delivery,” says Ochanda. “Compared to home deliveries, delivery at the clinic is far more safe. Traveling by bicycle is far less expensive than hiring a vehicle.”
At World Bicycle Relief, we believe that all individuals should have access to proper healthcare.
With WBR’s Buffalo Bicycles, CHWs in Africa are working to eliminate malaria; treat individuals with tuberculosis; teach positive health and nutrition practices; and visit more homebound patients.
With your continued support, we can increase and improve the critical work of community health workers.