On August 1st, 2014 another bicycle ambulance was donated by the Global Healthy Fellowship through WOFAD and World University Service of Canada (WUSC). In 2013, visitors from the University of Virginia traveled to Khombwe community and were touched by the warm welcome they received. After speaking WOFAD and members of the community they found out that one of the biggest challenges they faced was transporting their sick patients from this rural community about 35km outside of Blantyre, to a properly equipped hospital or clinic.
Many Malawians die of preventable diseases each year. Diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, and cholera are widely spread in Malawi, however, preventable and treatable. In addition, HIV/AIDS is a major challenge in the country and claims millions of lives every year due to lack of testing, medication, and proper monitoring of CD4 counts. The challenge of transportation has largely contributed to the high mortality rates. Transportation to and from rural communities is scarce and challenging. Road conditions are often so bad that vehicles are unable to reach the communities. There is a lack of public transport, and traveling times by foot are long and often dangerous. This has prevented many people from seeking treatment in the early stages of their illness. By the time treatment is sought it is often too late. Another huge challenge voiced by community members is the challenge of transporting pregnant women to hospitals, especially HIV positive mothers who require extensive monitoring throughout their pregnancy in order to ensure the health of their newborn babies. As a result of lack of transportation, many women choose or are forced to give birth at home with the help of traditional birth attendants instead of being admitted to hospitals. According to World Bank data from 2013, 510 maternal deaths occur in every 100,000 live births, while infant mortality rates are as high as 46 deaths per 1,000 live births.
When the visitors returned home, they decided to make a donation to this community in the form of a bicycle ambulance, knowing that the challenge of transportation is a large contributor to the lack of health care and high mortality.
In the past, bicycle ambulances have served as an efficient and sustainable mode of transportation for sick patients and pregnant women.
WOFAD would therefore like to extend a very special thanks to the Global Healthy Fellowship for donating this important piece of equipment to Khombwe community!!