2015 Winner: Riders For Health

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Primary Area of Impact: Healthcare
Geographic Areas Served: Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Year Founded: 1991
Website: www.ridersintl.org

Overview

Riders for Health’s mission is to make the ‘last mile’ the most important mile in health care delivery: creating, showing and sharing the solutions for achieving truly equitable health care. Their teams currently manage over 1,300 vehicles for health care delivery in the Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Whilst each country is at a different stage of development, their activities can be divided into three distinct areas:
  1. Mobilizing outreach health care: Riders’ flagship model focuses on the use of motorcycles to improve access to public health care at the most local level. Here we mobilize health workers employed by partner agencies to ensure that they have transportation to reach rural communities and conduct essential outreach work, including health education and disease monitoring.
  2. Emergency referrals and trekking vehicles: In addition to motorcycles, Riders also manages four-wheeled vehicles such as ambulances and trekking vehicles. Ambulances provide timely transfer from health centers to hospitals for patients in need of specialist care, whilst trekking vehicles are used to support large-scale health interventions – such as immunization campaigns.
  3. Courier systems and logistics: Riders’ Sample Transport (ST) programme is a unique motorcycle courier service designed to expedite the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of diseases like HIV and tuberculosis (TB). To do this, Riders deploys specialist motorcycle couriers to transport patients’ specimens/results between health centers and laboratories. We are now also using this model for supply chain, helping to ensure that health centers never run out of drugs and supplies.

Social Challenge

Riders for Health is a social enterprise established 25 years ago to address one of the greatest challenges facing health workers in sub-Saharan Africa: a lack of reliable transport preventing health care from reaching remote communities. We manage transport in harsh conditions with little infrastructure, connecting vital health care with rural areas hitherto unreachable except on foot.

The key barriers are infrastructure and population distribution. Transportation infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa is non-existent in places; rural Africa has just 34% road access and those roads that do exist are generally in poor condition. Population distribution is equally problematic – 40-60% of people in developing countries live more than eight kilometers away from a health facility, while 528 million in sub-Saharan Africa live rurally. These contextual challenges represent a barrier to health care that can be the difference between life and death.

Millions are spent every year on drugs and technologies for Africa, but a crucial factor is neglected: ensuring their reliable delivery. Health vehicles are abandoned in various states of disrepair, often needing just a single, inexpensive part to get them moving again. Without transportation, and its regular, planned maintenance, a huge portion of the millions poured into health care in Africa is, simply, wasted.

Once transport and maintenance become a visible part of health systems, connecting hospitals and health centers to communities, investment across the board is maximized. Without the risk that interventions will not reach where they are supposed to, organizations across development will benefit.

Accomplishments

  • 2013
    • Barclays Woman of the Year, CEO Andrea Coleman
    • Big Impact Award, Third Sector Excellence Awards
    • The Resolve Award, Aspen Institute’s Global Leader’s Council for Reproductive Health
    • Top 100 NGOs, The Global Journal
  • 2012
    • Best Transport Achievement Award, Fleet Forum
  • 2011
    • International Health Promotion Awards, 3rd place
  • 2009
    • Social Enterprise Category, Third Sector Awards
  • 2006
    • Paul Harris Fellowship, CEO Andrea Coleman
    • Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award
    • Tech Museum Award, The Tech Museum of Innovation
    • Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship
  • 2005
    • Best Practices in Global Health, Global Health Council
  • 2004
    • Invited to join the Schwab Foundation
    • Best Business Leader, Sage Business Awards
  • 2002
    • World Bank Development Marketplace Winner
    • The Nedlloyd Worldaware Award for infrastructure
    • National Lottery funding