Riders for Health is “working to make sure all health workers in Africa have access to reliable transportation so they can reach the most isolated people with regular and predictable health care.” In its own words, the social enterprise’s vision is “of a world in which the poor do not suffer and die for lack of access to health care and other vital services simply because they are isolated by distance or terrain.”
Founded in the UK in 1988 by Andrea and Barry Coleman, current estimates reckon that 11 million Africans have access to health care due to Riders’ programs. The organization manages over 1,000 vehicles to deliver health care services in Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia. According to Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs 2011, “Riders for Health’s innovative transport systems incorporate driving skills training, daily maintenance procedures, fuelling supply-chain logistics for replacement parts, and interval preventative maintenance. By using a motorcycle, for example, health workers have increased their number of visits to remote communities by at least 300%.”
Just one example: in Zimbabwe, health workers driving motocycles were able to deliver mosquito nets and drugs against malaria to secluded areas, decreasing the death rate from the disease there by 20%.
Since one of the main obstacles to health care provision in Africa is poor access and distribution of health products to rural areas, Riders for Health’s initiative has proved fundamental to aiding people even in the most out-of-the-way places.