Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How motorcycles can help to stop the spread of AIDS

Yesterday we posted on a story about Dr. Brian Williams who believes that the spread of AIDS can be contained within the next five years. The scientist believes that if all people in high-risk areas can be tested and if all who test positive are given anti-retro-viral drugs that the spread of AIDS will stop. Dr. Williams made those comments at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

One of our favorite social businesses also attended the AAAS meetings. Riders for Health added that reliable transportation must also be included in AIDS prevention efforts. Transport of patients from remote areas to hospitals is often the biggest challenge for health care, and is often ignored in under-developed countries. Riders for Health provide motorcycles to the health care systems in a couple of African countries to bring the sick to hospitals.

From the Riders For Health website, we learn more of how motorcycles can help to stop AIDS.

Responding to comments made by Dr Brian Williams at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Riders for Health [www.riders.org] pointed out that the lack of reliable vehicles for transporting blood samples over large distances in rural communities is currently one of the biggest barriers to accurate testing for HIV in Africa.

Sample transporter checking samplesDr Williams has told delegates at the conference that accurate testing for HIV and early application of anti-retroviral drugs could help to limit the spread of HIV dramatically. The lack of reliable transport available and the large distances between testing centres and laboratories means that it can often take months for patients to receive their test results. In many cases the lack of correct storage during transportation means samples cannot be tested when they reach laboratories.

In Lesotho, Riders for Health has been working with the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative to develop a network of mobile sample couriers to overcome this problem. Riders for Health is using its knowledge of running two- and four-wheeled vehicles in harsh conditions in the developing world to mobilise sample couriers with motorcycles, allowing them to reach even the most isolated communities and clinics.

Executive director of Riders for Health, Barry Coleman, said:
‘Riders for Health have shown that by using motorcycles to mobilise couriers to transport samples quickly and safely from clinics to laboratories and returning the results to the clinicians in a timely manner, patients can be given the right treatment as soon as possible. We have observed that when sample couriers are fully mobilised the time taken for sample testing can be cut from weeks to a matter of days. There has been a huge commitment to the development and supply of anti-retroviral drugs across the developing world, and especially Africa. The means of testing people for HIV are available, but as has been highlighted by Dr Williams, to prevent the spread of the disease it is important that people are tested quickly and accurately. It is vital that reliable transport is part of the solution.’


Matthew Hann said...

Dear Kale,

We thought that Dr Williams' comments to the AAAS were very interesting. As with all areas of health care in the developing world, it was important that the need for reliable transport as part of any health project in rural Africa, was raised.

However, just to clarify, Riders for Health were not at the AAAS meetings in San Diego.

We are very pleased that an increasing number of people are highlighting these issues.

We hope that in future, providing reliable transport will always be an integral part of organization's thinking on health care delivery and that Riders for Health will no longer have to raise this issue.

Matthew Hann,
Communications officer,
Riders for Health

Kale said...

Thanks Matthew,

We will correct that later today!