Monday, April 14, 2008

African Bicycle Ambulance - Sweet!

In many African villages, no access to cars and long distances to hospitals can threaten lives. Enter the bicycle ambulance, pictured below. This sweet ride will carry a patient the distance required without the expense of a car, which could blow the hospital's meagre budget.

From an article about the Bicycling Empowerment Network printed in

In a recent assessment of the link between transport and healthcare, the Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia (BEN Namibia) found that people living with HIV/AIDS are hit hard by the lack of transport. Patients either miss their treatment because no transport is available, or spend most of their income (up to US$8 per month) on paying for lifts in private vehicles, leaving little money to pay for the food that is an essential part of their treatment. The situation worsens in an emergency, when rural dwellers may pay up to US$66 to reach the nearest hospital.

In order to change this picture, in October 2006, BEN Namibia launched a bicycle ambulance manufacturing plant in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek. Bicycle ambulances are ‘stretchers on wheels’ that attach to normal bicycles and tow a sick person or pregnant woman to a hospital or clinic where no other transport is available. In other African countries where bicycle ambulances are in use, there have been marked declines in infant and maternal mortality rates.

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