There is a critical need for improved emergency transport services in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Annually, more than 500,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth, 3.3 million babies are stillborn and four million babies do not survive beyond four weeks (World Health Organisation). These deaths, most of which are medically preventable, occur almost entirely in Africa and Asia and a significant contributory factor is a lack of affordable emergency transport.
There is much need for improved, low-cost patient transport with increased speed and comfort. Bicycle ambulance-trailers have been introduced on a small scale but are slow, have limited range and require much human effort.
In response to this need DT developed the motorcycle ambulance trailer (MAT), an affordable (they only cost £2,500 compared to at least £30,000 for a basic ambulance) and appropriate emergency transport vehicle. These vehicles have already been successfully trialled in Tanzania and Zambia and DT has also trained a non-governmental organisation to produce the trailers locally in Zambia. The MAT can operate well on rough roads, has automatic breaking for safety, and for comfort uses a sprung suspension system made from rubber which is cheaper and easier to obtain than leaf springs. It can carry a patient on a demountable stretcher and two carers at a speed of up to 30kph.
DT is now proposing to introduce the motorcycle ambulance trailer on a larger scale by providing emergency transport to a population of 250,000 in Namitete, Malawi. Our hope is to make a significant impact on reducing child and maternal mortality.
Two of Developing Technologies Motorcycle Ambulance-Trailers (MAT) are being trialled in Zambia as part of the DfID funded AFCAP (African Community Access Programme) project. The aim of the trials is to assess the impact of low-cost emergency transport services on improving access of rural communities to health services. It is hoped that this will have a significant impact on reducing the suffering and deaths that result from rural people not being able to access emegency health facilities, particularly for maternal and new-borne emergencies.