Bicycle ambulances for Namibia

The ambulances will be delivered to rural communities in the north of the country in partnership with community-based organisations, strengthening the grassroots response to HIV/AIDS.

Bicycle ambulances are “stretchers on wheels” that attach to normal bicycles and tow a sick person or pregnant woman to a hospital or clinic where no other transport is available.

BEN Namibia’s work delivering bicycles to home-based care volunteers in the north has demonstrated that there is an enormous need for emergency transport solutions for care of people living with HIV/AIDS. In other African countries where bicycle ambulances are in use, there have been marked declines in infant and maternal mortality rates.

In 2005 BEN Namibia developed and built prototypes that were tested by home-based care volunteers in Oshakati, who provided vital input to the design process.

BEN Namibia has since received requests for ambulances from different grassroots organisations, and is planning a manufacturing centre in its workshop in Windhoek, with a view to eventually establishing regional production centres.

To make it possible, BEN Namibia is searching for partners to contribute to funding the production of 96 ambulances. For the sponsors, BEN Namibia offers a package of benefits that include extensive brand exposure and the opportunity to develop dedicated activities with different stakeholders.

According to BEN managing director Michael Linke, the sponsorship is a great opportunity for Namibian businesses.

“The bike ambulance is a high visibility project that will attract a lot of local and international media coverage.

“It is also an opportunity to associate brands with an innovative solution to the enormous problem of emergency healthcare transport in remote communities.”

BEN Namibia recently featured in a half hour BBC documentary about its work providing bicycles to grassroots HIV/AIDS home-based care volunteers (still available at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/fallandriseofthebicycle/pip/ehip5/)

BEN Namibia is a non-profit organisation based in Windhoek that aims to empower disadvantaged Namibians through provision of sustainable transport and bicycle-related income generation opportunities.

It imports donated second-hand bikes, parts and accessories from overseas charities and refurbishes them by employing and training local people in bike mechanics. To date it has received more than 1 600 bicycles from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and more than 600 bicycles were delivered through a network of community-based organisations that run home-based care projects, providing important support to the national health care system.

With bicycles, home-based carers can see more clients, spend longer with each and deliver more supplies. Bicycles benefit the caregivers, people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

August 2006
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