In regions where transportation is limited and health clinics and hospitals are far from homes, bike ambulances provide a vital service. Several organizations rely on Buffalo Bicycles to pull metal carts over miles of narrow dirt tracks.
Partner MAMaz Against Malaria in Zambia trains community health workers to treat severe malaria cases, particularly in children. In addition to providing care and drugs, Community Health Workers (CHWs) can transport severe patients to the nearest clinic using their bike ambulances.
Home visits are an essential component of healthcare in rural Africa, and with high rates of malaria and HIV/AIDS, many patients depend on the medication CHWs deliver. For caregivers like Royce in Zambia, a bicycle means she can see up to 18 patients a day, instead of the four she could see by foot.
And, as COVID-19 spreads rapidly around the world, medicine delivery also allows patients to stay healthy without risking exposing themselves to others.
Almost 60% of African women give birth without skilled attendants, according to the World Health Organization. With access to care, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of mothers and babies could be prevented. That’s why healthcare volunteers are vital to providing care to expectant and new mothers.
Considered at higher risk for COVID-19, pregnant women and their newborns must also take extra precautions. With bicycles, health clinics like the Chisankane Health Center in Zambia, which serves up to 10,000 people, can reach more women with the care they need.
In regions where food security has long been an issue, social distancing guidelines and reduced economic opportunity are further preventing families’ access to clean water and food.
Bicycles become an important tool in the distribution of essentials like food and water and a source of potential income as the long-term effects of the pandemic emerge.
In rural communities and refugee camps, news can be limited and unreliable. Health workers on bicycles can disseminate information on COVID-19 warning signs and dispel misinformation that might prevent individuals from seeking care.
With bicycles, health workers can educate vulnerable families on proper hygiene, containment and how to prevent the spread of the virus.
One Community, Johns Hopkins and USAID’s flagship community-based response to Malawi’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, recently received donated bikes to do just that, as well as ensure that those with HIV/AIDS continue their critical treatment.