Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.
The World Health Organisation currently estimates that 33.4 million people across the world are living with HIV/AIDS. Of these, two thirds of infections are located in sub-Saharan Africa. TB is cited as the leading cause of death in HIV-positive patients. One of the major challenges in managing the burden of diseases like HIV and TB is the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of the disease. The laboratory is pivotal to the provision of these services but distance, geography and a lack of transport means that they are not easily accessible.
Riders work in seven sub-Saharan countries, all of which are ranked within the lowest 25% of the 2010 Human Development Index. Currently focused across Lesotho and in regions of Zambia and Zimbabwe, the ST programme offers a non-discriminatory service that ensures the provision of primary-level laboratory services to a potential 3 million men, women and children. We work with communities isolated by barriers of distance, poverty and terrain – ensuring that they get the answers they need. Within this, there is particular focus on those living with HIV/AIDS, early infant diagnosis and the expedited detection and treatment of TB.
Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
Riders started in the motorcycle community when a group of people began fundraising for children in developing countries. During several trips to Africa in the late 1980s to see the impact of this donation, Barry and Andrea Coleman and GP racer Randy Mamola noticed that vehicles intended for healthcare delivery were unused, simply because they had broken down. Barry and Andrea Coleman became determined to find a solution to the problem that they now recognised as undermining the development of Africa. Riders began as an operational wing of a larger children’s charity and were registered as an independent organisation in 1996.
In 2008, Riders were working in partnership with the Elton John Aids Foundation (EJAF) and the Lesotho Ministry of Health (MoH) to mobilise 120 outreach health workers nationwide. However, a recent government drive to decentralise ARV drugs had also highlighted an unforeseen bottleneck in primary-level laboratory access. The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) soon approached Riders and asked if we could direct our services towards this issue. 26 of the initial 120 motorcycles were reallocated for this purpose and the ST programme was launched in November 2008 - a joint venture between Riders, CHAI, EJAF and the Lesotho MoH.