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Bicycle ambulances save lives in rural Uganda

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Jun 03, 2022 - 09:57 AM

KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) – In remote rural parts of the East African country of Uganda, where motorized ambulances fail to reach in absence of roads, modified bicycles carry the sick to hospitals and provide them immediate medical aid.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency coinciding with World Bicycle Day, which is being observed on Friday, First African Bicycle Information Organization (FABIO) Director Katesi Najjiba said the idea behind transforming bicycles into ambulances was to provide immediate health care in the remote areas.

“Each ambulance has a mobile phone, so people in the villages can call if they need help,” he said.

The ambulances are managed by village health teams chosen from within the community. The teams distribute contact numbers so people in need can request the service.

Residents in remote Jinja district in eastern Uganda told Anadolu Agency that they have found bicycles more reliable than motorized vehicles as they can negotiate on muddy roads to beat the lack of transportation and poor road infrastructure. More so, they are readily available and are much cheaper.

The bicycle is transformed into a rickshaw or a trailer to create a place for a stretcher to carry a patient, an attendant, and immediate medical aid.

Muhammad Swadiq, a resident, said he could have died, in absence of a bicycle ambulance, when he contracted malaria recently.

“Even if there was a motorized ambulance, there is no way it could have reached my home because the road is so narrow. We are disengaged, the road is not wide enough for a vehicle to go through,” he said.

He said in his area a lot of people used to succumb to diseases because they were unable to reach hospitals or get any medical aid.

“Many pregnant women and newborn babies have died for want of medical aid. Now we call bicycle ambulances and they transport them to hospitals and save lives. Normal vehicles cannot access our villages since they are remote and without proper roads,” said Swadiq.

In 2017 a report published by the National Library of Medicines mentioned lack of proper and timely medical aid major cause of child mortality in the region.

Ugandan Health Minister Jane Aceng appreciated the key role played by these bicycles in saving lives by transporting the sick to the health facilities.

“It is our priority to serve the health needs of our people mainly transporting the sick to the hospital for medical attention. We also appreciate the critical role played by partners in saving lives through their work of transporting the sick to health facilities,” she said.

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