Nurses on Motor Bikes


Riders For Health

projects_bikes_bishopMost health care in rural areas of Tanzania is delivered not by doctors but by nurses based in a small number of village dispensaries. The challenge then is to provide care for the thousands of people who live far away from a dispensary.

In May 2002 the Right Reverend Patrick Mwachiko, Bishop of Masasi, visited the tiny headquarters of Riders for Health in Northamptonshire. He realised immediately that their advice to use motor bikes rather than four-wheeled vehicles (cheaper and with less to go wrong) – and their recipe for guaranteed zero-breakdown through preventive maintenance – could be applied to his Diocese.

An appeal in the UK to buy four motor bikes for Masasi and to pay for running costs was launched in December 2002. The appeal was incredibly successful and four brand new Yamaha ‘Agricultural Specification’ 100cc motorbikes arrived in Masasi in July 2004.


projects_riders_edmundIn the meantime project manager, Edmund Omari, had received three weeks’ training in fleet management at the Riders for Health International Academy of Vehicle Management in Harare, Zimbabwe.

He in turn then trained the dispensary nurses and the peripatetic eye-nurse who were to use the motorbikes. The course covered basic maintenance and how to ride – in sand, in water, over rocks! There is only one tarmac road in the area. After that it was over to them – with Edmund making regular visits.


Since then the number of bikes has been increased to six and they have covered over 110,000 kilometres. Each motor bike costs only about £300 a year to run. They are based at Rondo, Chidya, Mtandi, Luatala and Newala.

Sister Debora in Newala describes a typical call-out:

“It was Sunday about 5 in the evening, my mobile rang. I was told that there was a pregnant mother and her labour pains had started but she had no way to make the journey here!

I had to go off in a hurry to the district hospital to fetch what was needed. I then went on the motor bike to the village of Mtangalanga, about 5 miles away. When I arrived there I met the mother who was in labour and because I am also a midwife I carried out a physical examination and found she was three-fifths dilated. I was able to help her and happily she produced a little girl weighing 3.2kg.”


projects_riders_SrDebThe mother comments:

“I have been delighted that I have been able to have a healthy child!
Sr Debora was able to come to see me quickly because she has a motor bike which makes it possible for her to reach women who are having problems with childbirth like me so fast.”

Riders for Health’s vision is of a world in which the poor do not suffer and die for lack of access to health care and other vital services simply because they are isolated by distance or terrain.

See more at: RIDERS.ORG