Using motorcycles for healthcare delivery in The Gambia

Salifu Jabang, head technician at Riders for Health, The Gambia on why motorcycles work for delivering healthcare in his homeland.

Sal has been working for Riders for Health since he was sixteen. Now head motorcycle technician at Riders for Health in The Gambia he absolutely loves bikes because they’re perfect for getting healthcare to communities where it is desperately needed.

At Riders’ main workshop in Gambian capital Banjul, Sal talks about the challenges for health workers in the Gambia. “During the rainy season even if you have four wheel it’s difficult.

“With a motorcycle you can just ride and go.
Mud? Water? Doesn’t matter.”

From June to October, it’s impossible for most vehicles to leave the main roads and get down the dirt tracks to remote villages. Anyone living in these areas is often unable to visit a doctor or nurse, even in an emergency.

Motorcycles mean heath workers in the Gambia reach people with vital services – immunisations, checking pregnant and new mothers, their newborn babies and well as the under fives. And in urban areas, riders can nip (carefully!) through traffic jams. “Our roads are very tight,” says Sal. “On a motorcycle, you can get to where you need to be.”

Cost is the other huge factor that makes motorcycles so useful in the Gambia and many other parts of Africa. They are cheaper to buy than four wheel vehicles and less costly to maintain. This makes a difference when money is tight and health services have to be delivered on a shoestring.

Healthworker in the community, The Gambia

Two Wheels for Life powering Riders For Health in Gambia 2018

Maintenance – Sal’s area of expertise – is key to keeping costs low. Sal’s team make sure the bikes will never break down: mechanics service bikes regularly and health workers are taught to look after their own bikes so they can rely on them to last and last. This is what Riders calls ‘zero breakdown’ and it’s something they are world experts in.

Using two wheels has changed everything for health workers here – it is essential. Nobody can buy a life, but by using motorcycles for health care we are saving lives every day.

Sal and his team, by committing the Riders system of vehicle management, can proudly say that they have been part of radically transforming access to healthcare in The Gambia.

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