Many preventable, treatable diseases are often caused by poor sanitation and lack of basic health education. Community healthcare workers move from house to house to provide necessary care, but there are only so many people they can reach on foot, and those living in the most remote areas are often underserved.
On top of this, poverty levels are high. Most people farm, but they only grow enough for themselves and perhaps a small surplus to sell at the local markets. Outside of subsistence farming and fishing there are few options to earn an income.
Healthcare is vital. If farmers are struck down by diseases, they can’t work. And many have no means of making the long and arduous journey to a health facility.
If rural communities can’t access health care, the health care should come to them. So, together with our partner Christian Aid in Kenya, we are building a Rural Transport Network, which enables mobile health workers to reach thousands of people who may otherwise be unable to access medical care or even die unnecessarily.
The programme equips volunteer health workers with motorbikes to help them deliver essential medicines, health supplies and provide health education to people in rural areas. They also use the bikes to support their own small businesses to generate greater income for their families and keep the bikes on the road.
And you’ve been helping out too. Businesses all around the Virgin Group and beyond have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to support this ground-breaking initiative.
The impact to date:
The Rural Transport Network is delivering hope, saving lives and boosting economies. On average, one RTN rider:
Covers over 400 km of rough terrain on his bike to travel door to door to deliver health products, services and advice to rural communities;
Visits over 60 households every month (and that’s approximately 450 people!)
Reaches over 250 more people monthly at various community events, such as HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness talks, nutrition and hygiene campaigns.
Pretty impressive, for just one health worker and a bike. So you can only imagine what a whole network or riders can do!
Since the launch of the programme in 2009, our 30 riders have visited 41,000 households, and over 12,000 patients were treated at home. The riders earn an average £30 monthly profit.
In addition, Virgin Atlantic have supported an additional 30 bikes with their partner Riders for Health. Since inception, the programme touched thousands of lives.
Isaiah Mbevi Mwendwa is a health worker in Kilome, Kenya.
“Since my childhood, I dreamt of being a successful entrepreneur and community servant.. The Rural Transport Network has made my dream come true. The community health training has enabled me to improve the health of my community. The motorbike has made me reach a larger population with health knowledge and skills. Currently I am running a small business of dairy farming and the entrepreneurship training and motorbike has enabled me to improve my way of doing business. Through the motorbike, now I can deliver my dairy products to my customers in time. Through your support, there has been a very great change in my life.”
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