In rural Africa, poor transport costs lives. Riders for Health is changing all this. But can they now set up a new medical transport network in rural Zambia in just six months?
Can they meet Alvin Hall’s challenge to import motorcycles, train riders and clear all the political, legal and business hurdles? Alvin Hall, a business and financial expert, is travelling the world helping social entrepreneurs become more successful.
In this first episode, Alvin meets a couple who are addressing a serious problem for the delivery of health care service – transportation. But they don’t want their work to be seen as charity. They want it to be a self-funding program run by locals.
However, in order to do that they need to train local riders and drivers to carry out simple checks and preventative maintenance of the vehicles. If this is done, the result is hardly any breakdowns no matter how rough the roads.
Riders for Health began more than 20 years ago. Today they employ nearly 300 people in seven African countries. They manage more than 1,300 vehicles that provide access to health care for more than ten million people. And although they manage all sorts of vehicles the motorbike remains at the heart of their work. The motorbike is low cost to buy, it is low cost to run and public health workers and for people who are running specimen transport and so on, you cannot afford to buy a big vehicle for everybody who needs one.
The motorbike, unlike cars, are able to negotiate single tracks. Given the poor state of the roads in Africa, it is essential that they use a mode of transport that can travel over all types of terrain.
The motorbikes are also able to reach remote rural communities, often on tracks, making sure that everybody receives medical care.