Using vehicles in Africa is not a new idea. Riders for Health’s innovation lies in challenging assumptions about the use of vehicles for healthcare delivery, and systematically transforming access to healthcare for millions of people in rural, African communities, previously been isolated by distance and terrain.
Hitherto, the lack of infrastructure and the harsh conditions in Africa have led many to conclude that vehicles are doomed in such an environment. Millions of dollars have been wasted on vehicles that are unmanaged. Without appropriate maintenance, a vehicle will last for maybe a year but will then breakdown unpredictably and expensively. Trained public health workers are forced to travel by foot to reach the people in their care, negating their ability to do their job effectively. People in rural areas have to leave their communities and walk for many kilometres to access even the most basic healthcare. No matter how much funding is poured into development programs like the provision of medical care, improved food technologies or improved water and sanitation services, such interventions will fail if there is no transportation available to reach the people.
Riders disrupts this isolation using a locally-run infrastructure and management system for vehicles used in the delivery of healthcare and services. The system is known as Transport Resource Management (TRM). It changes attitudes and behaviour around the use of vehicles, creating a culture of preventive maintenance and a systematic approach to vehicle management.
We work with agencies who reach out to rural communities. They benefit by being able to achieve their objectives and budget accurately for the costs of reliable transportation. Health workers benefit because, once mobilized, they can achieve their work targets and also become healthier themselves by conserving energy. And, ultimately, millions of people in rural communities benefit from regular, reliable access basic healthcare.