Communities have a great reason to love bikes in rural Malawi; pedal power gets sick people to hospital in time and saves lives.
To celebrate Bike Week (15-23 June), we look at how important bike ambulances are for the people of rural Malawi.
Transporting the sick to hospital
Getting a sick person from Masoko, northern Malawi, to the closest health centre used to take five or six people, who would all be gone for at least a day.
‘Last year a man died on the way to hospital,’ says Miriam Forgo, chair of the Masoko village HIV caring club.
‘We couldn’t get him there on time on foot – he was 47 years old and had five children who depended on him. He could have been saved if we’d had the stretcher then.’
A bike ambulance requires only two people, who can make the journey in just over an hour.
Miriam says: ‘I believe it has already saved at least 10 lives.’
‘We need another bicycle, because there are 12 villages, and we sometimes need to make a decision about which patient should get treatment over another.’
The bike ambulance is one part of awide-ranging project to tackle HIV by Christian Aid partner, Malawi Seventh day Adventist Church HIV and Aids programme (MASHAP), in this remote part of the country.
HIV care in rural Malawi
MASHAP are helping families to change the way they farm – using different crops and natural fertilisers – which mean families have more to eat, and more variety.
HIV caring clubs make sure everyone knows how to eat well so that the medicines they take will work.
They provide counselling for people who have recently found out they are HIV positive and they play a key role in making sure people understand HIV, what it is, how it is treated and passed on.
The support they give to people wanting to have children without passing on the virus brings life-changing hope.
But in the moment of sickness and need, the bicycles are a step in solving the problem of how to get immediate treatment.
Please continue to support Christian Aid partners to meet these lifesaving needs.