Why Bicycles for Healthcare?

GOOD HEALTHCARE FROM THE START

Children with adequate nutrition are more likely to reach their full physical or cognitive potential, fulfilling their ability to learn and earn a living wage.

At World Bicycle Relief, we believe that all children should have access to proper healthcare regardless of their birthplace, family, race, ethnicity or gender, family income, or physical and mental abilities. Infants with prenatal care are much more likely to have a regular birth weight and survive their first few days. A child who is immunized and has access to safe drinking water is much more likely to live past his or her fifth birthday and have a healthy life (Source: UNICEF).

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In rural sub-Saharan Africa, where medical professionals are overworked and in short supply, community healthcare workers (CHWs) deliver services designed to improve maternal, newborn, child, and adult health.

 

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. WBR sells Buffalo Bicycles to international NGOs and government agencies who then distribute the bikes to CHWs. Research shows that healthcare workers can reach 45% more patients by bicycle than on foot. With WBR’s Buffalo Bicycles, CHWs in Zambia are working to eliminate malaria, teach positive health and nutrition practices to more pregnant and lactating women, and visit more homebound patients. CHWs in Kenya travel by bike to treat more individuals with tuberculosis, helping to reduce the spread of this preventable disease.

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In rural areas, traveling is difficult even under the best circumstances. When ill, it can be impossible. CHWs can visit more homebound patients when they bike instead of walk.

THE HEALTH CRISIS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Children born in sub-Saharan Africa 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, lacking the infrastructure to provide even basic healthcare to many of its people (Source: The Business of Health in Africa, International Finance Corporation).

Poor health not only claims lives, but also limits the potential of children, their communities, and their countries. In Africa, 11% of the gross national product is lost due to poor nutrition alone (UNICEF). Improving the health and nutrition of mothers and their children can help increase educational attainment, workforce participation, and social contributions, thereby helping individuals and communities to prosper.

ROLE OF COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE WORKERS

The overwhelming majority of child and maternal deaths could be prevented through well-known, low-cost, and easily deliverable interventions. However, the interventions needed to diagnose, prevent, and treat the causes of these deaths must be delivered by skilled community-level healthcare workers, midwives, nurses, and doctors (UNICEF State of the World’s Children 2016). In the developing world, CHWs are trained volunteers who sacrifice their time to support other community members. The severe shortage of medical professionals in rural sub-Saharan Africa makes the CHW’s role even more important.
UNICEF reports in its State of the World’s Children Report 2016 that much of the input for progress in healthcare “has come from strengthened health systems and community-based health interventions. Community health workers have expanded the reach of care, linking vulnerable people to high impact, low-cost interventions for maternal, newborn, and child health.”

Health programs that provide Buffalo Bicycles enjoy better CHW retention rates, which results in better care for patients.

THE ROLE OF BICYCLES IN HEALTHCARE

To fulfill their responsibilities, CHWs often walk long distances over rough terrain and in inclement weather. A bicycle reduces the workers’ travel times, enabling them to reach more patients more frequently and spend more time at each visit, thus increasing the quality of care received by these patients – and their communities. Research shows that with bicycles, healthcare workers can reach 45% more patients and travel four times farther than on foot.

Owning a bicycle also comes with extra benefits for healthcare providers. CHWs are able to run their personal errands more quickly and efficiently, giving them more time to fulfill their CHW responsibilities to deliver services to the underserved in rural areas.

WHY BICYCLES?

For many people in the developing world, walking is their primary mode of transportation. Add the challenge of distance and seemingly simple tasks become difficult and sometimes impossible. With no choice but to walk, meeting everyday needs is a struggle against time and fatigue. When you provide a bicycle, you empower people with the opportunity to make choices.

Thanks to your support, we can leverage our efforts to provide more than just bicycles.

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