Currently six ambulances run between 47 villages, two health centres and the main district hospital, and serve a total population of 22,152 people. This population was identified by the Kambia District Medical Officer as being one of the most vulnerable due to severe levels of poverty and lack of organised public transport.
The motorbike ambulances are based at two health centres, Barmoi Munu and Maselleh, and although the ambulances are available for all emergency cases, the main aim of the project is to help pregnant women gain access to maternal healthcare. Typically, women in the project catchment area have to walk between five and twelve miles to reach their nearest health centre. Public transport is limited, and if private taxis are available the cost of an emergency journey is often highly inflated beyond the means of most families. Understandably, women suffering obstructed labour, pre-eclampsia and haemorrhage are not able to make the arduous journey on foot and so are forced to stay at home without medical attention. Without adequate transportation to reach the health centre, such women and their babies are likely to die or suffer permanent injury or ill health, and their deaths very often go unrecorded.
The motorbike ambulances are helping to increase the number of deliveries managed by qualified midwives in safe and sterile environments, and, in emergency cases, increase the number of women receiving obstetric care (caesarean sections) at the district hospital. Such outcomes will contribute to lowering the maternal and child mortality rate in the region.
eRanger’s innovative vehicle design combines the benefits of a motorcycle with the cargo capacity of a sidecar, in a package that is cost effective, rugged and simple to maintain. The vehicles have proven to be extremely durable, reliable and fuel efficient and are already making a positive impact for health projects in Malawi, South Africa, Afghanistan and Sudan. The motorbikes and sidecars are easier and cheaper to run and maintain than typical 4×4 Land Rover style ambulances, and can reach more remote areas where roads and tracks are often narrow or in poor condition.
The motorbike ambulances provide an innovative, cost-effective solution to the problem of emergency transport in remote areas.