Kameko Nichols says: "In our office, to do our site visits, we need transport; for a ministry of health to do all of its functions, they need transport; and health workers getting out to the field to do their outreach services need transport. Transport is everywhere in the health system and when it doesn’t work it’s very apparent."As a lab systems expert in Lesotho, Kameko discovered this problem first hand. Lesotho’s mountainous terrain and a lack of transport made it very difficult to transport blood and sputum samples from remote rural areas to centralised district laboratories to get tested.Without a specific transport system in place, rural areas in Lesotho would often have to wait up to four weeks to receive the results from tests that were analysed in a district laboratory in 48 hours. Delays in laboratory results not only put the patient at risk but also increase the risk of a disease spreading.
Riders for Health was already operating in Lesotho mobilising health care workers and we worked to develop a transportation solution. The Professional Sample Courier (PSC) program was launched in 2008 and 26 Riders sample couriers are now working across ten different districts in Lesotho. The couriers collect and deliver samples using special backpacks developed by Riders, which manage temperature and vibrations. Riders trains the couriers in safe and controlled motorcycle riding, as well as daily preventative maintenance so the vehicles never break down. As a result, quick yet accurate diagnoses can be made, allowing for timely care and treatment.Kameko Nichols says: "I really hope that Riders for Health as an organisation becomes very well known throughout Africa. The work that Riders is doing is so important: reliable transport is critical to the health system and I think that too few people know about Riders for Health in Africa."Kameko is currently working with our team in Zambia to expand our programme into the Southern Province.Also, now follow Riders for Health on Facebook.