Cyclone ravaging Malawi highlights vulnerability of Health Services across Africa

At least 99 people have died in Malawi after Cyclone Freddy tore through the nation and neighbouring Mozambique. The Malawian government declared a state of disaster in the 10 hardest-hit districts as rescue workers were overwhelmed trying to find survivors buried in mud. 

Many of our sample transport couriers are amongst the tens of thousands whose homes have been destroyed since the cyclone hit. We are now preparing to address ongoing problems for staff and their families as homes are wrecked, road conditions become ever more challenging and we struggle with loss of power in our offices

A home destroyed by Cyclone Freddy. Tens of thousands of people’s homes have been damaged or destroyed by the cyclone. PHOTO BY Stezhi Kankhande – R4H staff.

Riders for Health Malawi, known locally as R4H locally, was formed in 2011. The programme provides transportation of samples and test results to the government and other agencies, ensuring the speedy diagnosis of conditions such as HIV AIDS and TB. In Malawi we also provide large scale medical waste disposal services and safety focused motorcycle training for organisations. 

Riders for Health CEO Kayode Ajayi says that the incident is just another example of how  African nations and people are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters due to increasing impacts of climate change and severe weather.

As a pan-African social enterprise, we fear that with climate change, disasters like this will become more and more common, disproportionately affecting the people already living in challenging circumstances and severely impacting our ability to provide healthcare to the most vulnerable.

Kayode Ajayi, CEO Riders for Health

This comes on top of a mass cholera outbreak that has claimed thousands of children’s lives across Malawi over the past year, plus the burden that COVID-19 has already placed on the nation’s healthcare systems.

Riders for Health are concerned about how we will cope with future disasters caused by climate change that are forecasted to affect the nations we operate in.

Riders for Health Malawi sample transport couriers travel to remote communities to collect biological samples to test for diseases such as AIDS, TB and Covid-19. They deliver samples to labs and returning the results to the communities for speedy diagnosis, essential in curbing the spread of dangerous diseases.

In addition, the Riders’ motorcycle couriers are being called by the UN and other agencies to play their part in stemming cholera outbreaks which could be exacerbated by the storm, and to cope with other urgent medical needs, in collaboration with other NGOs working in each district.
Riders routine work with labs for diagnosis and with clinics and hospitals (where the buildings and surrounding land is flooded) for collection of clinical waste, has been seriously disrupted. This will need to be resumed as quickly as possible to prevent a further health crisis.

We have set up a fundraiser in partnership with British organisation Two Wheels for Life, to bolster their transport for healthcare programme and support their staff whose homes have been destroyed in the disaster.

If you would like to support us at this difficult time please use the donation link below.

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