Powerful, cheap and user-friendly bike ambulances can help hundreds seek medical attention promptly
Only half of the population of Uganda, an east-central African country, has access to medical facilities. Around 15 women die every day from childbirth and pregnancy related complications in the country.
More than half of its districts lack ambulance services, where less than 7 percent of the patients arrive at the hospital by ambulance, says an Al Jazeera report.
Precisely this reason compelled the First African Bicycle Information Organisation (FABIO) to establish its first bicycle ambulance in then war-torn northern region of Uganda in 2006.
Sandra Naigaga, one of the hundreds of women in Uganda, had to walk at least four kilometers during her early month of pregnancy to get prenatal care at the health center in Kibibi, Uganda.
Naigaga throughout her months of pregnancy worried about Uganda's high maternal and newborn mortality rates.
However, now Naigaga along with many elderly persons, children and sick regularly use FABIO's bicycle ambulances to get faster medical services as the NGO, based in Uganda's Jinja, introduced their free bicycle ambulance system in late 2018 in two major health centers in the country.
"We are always weak as pregnant women," said Naigaga, adding, "They take us to hospital, we get treatment and they bring us back."
FABIO's primary goal was to create something that is equally user and eco-friendly.
"We wanted to create a sustainable or cheaper way for the people to access health centers," said, Katesi Najjiba, executive director.
Jeremiah Brian Nkuutu, a field officer at FABIO, said that the ambulances are African solutions to African problems, built by the locals using locally sourced materials like the black bicycles, as a base since its spare parts is easily collectable in the village.
However, Mukasa Harid, a bicycle ambulance cyclist sad that some of the terrains such as the hilly areas can pose quite a problem while picking up a patient and further added how it is only possible if a person helps him push it.
FABIO then launched the e-scooter to solve this issue, a rechargeable electric bike used instead of motorcycles in places where the ground is rugged like the zone around the Kibibi Health Centre.