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Riders for Health given ‘Big Impact’ award for use of motorcycles in Lesotho

September 27, 2013

The following is an industry press release...

Riders for Health – the official charity of MotoGP™ and the FIM – has won the ‘Big Impact’ Award at the Third Sector Excellence Awards for the way it is using motorcycles to dramatically improve diagnosis of HIV in rural communities in southern Africa.

Lesotho has the third highest rate of HIV infection in the world and its unique geography means that people living in mountain communities can be isolated from health care.

To overcome this challenge the UK based social enterprise, Riders for Health, have mobilised a team of specially trained couriers with reliable motorcycles to help transport medical samples and results to and from rural clinics, and their team of technicians maintain them so they never break down.

Barry Coleman, Riders for Health’s co-founder and executive director, said ‘The first step to treating any disease is diagnosing it, and that means reaching the patient to test them, and making sure their sample reaches the lab. This relies on reliable transport, which is maintained properly so it never breaks. The work of our sample couriers in Lesotho is having a big impact on health care there, but reliable transport should underpin the work of all health workers, in all countries, in Africa. When it does, we will be a long way to making sure health care reaches everyone, everywhere’.

Since 2012, Riders has mobilised 30 couriers, so that 100% of health centres in Lesotho are now benefitting from weekly sample courier service and there has been a 90% increase in the number of samples transported.

Riders for Health’s programme has cut the time taken for test results to be returned to health centres by over half and the couriers transported over 364,000 samples and results between rural health centres and laboratories in 2012.

By making sure that when patients give a sample they can be sure they will get the result, it is helping to build people’s confidence in the health system. Since the Riders for Health service launched, three-quarters of rural clinics have also reported that there has been an increased demand for testing

Riders for Health is using its experience of managing 1,300 vehicles across Africa to make sure these motorcycles are maintained properly so they never break down and the service always runs properly.

As well as the 30 sample couriers, Riders for Health is also mobilising 70 health workers across Lesotho who are delivering health care and support to people living in remote villages in Lesotho, and helping to treat diseases like HIV and tuberculosis.

Third Sector is the UK’s leading publication for the voluntary and not-for-profit sector. The Third Sector Excellence Awards recognise the outstanding performance of non-profit organisations in the UK and abroad.

Riders for Health was founded in the motorcycle community over 20 years ago by Andrea and Barry Coleman and 13-time grand prix winner, Randy Mamola. It continues to be supported by motorcyclists around the world, and they hold fundraising events at MotoGP events throughout the year. The biggest of these is Day of Champions at Silverstone, which raised £216,249 in 2013.

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