co-founder of Riders for Health (RFH); an international non-profit organisation
that provides healthcare to rural African villages using motorcycles and
motorcycle ambulances and door-to-door healthcare said the organisation is
renewing her commitment to the welfare and plight of African people.
In a press briefing held at the Metzy residence in Kololi on Wednesday, Andrea Coleman said the International organisation will continue to help African countries in service delivery, particularly on health.
She said Riders for Health derived from her and her husband Barry Coleman’s idea, saying Barry worked as a feature writer for British Guardian newspaper while she was a professional rider for five years. “In 1986, with the help of racing legends, we contacted the representatives of Save the Children who told us that one of the biggest problems they have in getting the children immunised, was reaching the ones in remote villages.”
Mrs. Coleman said they then traveled to Africa and saw the woeful state of the roads and noticed a lot of abandoned motorbikes left by the earlier aid workers that needed repair. “Our motorcycles are well-suited for harsh African landscapes where roads are often busted, rutted or simply non-existent. With the help of Save the Children, the local governments and money raised at bike rallies in England, we set up pilot programmes in Uganda and Gambia and helped acquire motorcycles, trained riders and technicians.”
According to her, they built a fleet of 47 bikes in Lesotho that delivers health-care services from 1991 to 1996 without any breakdown and at the end of that period, they became an independent organisation and expanded into Ghana, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. “We have since diversified our fleet to include refrigerator trucks, minivans and ambulances and introduced a motorcycle ambulance fitted with a sidecar called the Uhuru that can be used as a mini-ambulance and double as a water pump when the bike is stationary.”
Mrs. Coleman said their main reason for collaborating with Gambia’s ministry of health is to avoid risks and vehicle break down, saying most of the ambulances that runs from the communities easily breaks down.