Another practice that has a significant impact on a woman's health is commonly known as head loading in Africa. Carrying heavy loads of firewood, clean water, or baskets of cassava causes severe trauma to the neck and back. Pregnant women are often overburdened in these tasks which are mostly carried out by women and young girls. A bicycle equipped with a sturdy rack increases carrying capacity and also allows a woman to travel faster over a further distance, saving valuable energy and time.
|Harriet is able to carry more water safely on her bike rack|
|A mother in Guinea-Bissau transports her baby to the clinic|
In our last post we also expressed a huge need for health care workers in rural areas in Africa. Many struggling clinics cite transportation as the biggest hindrance in keeping qualified health workers on staff and clinics open. In Madagascar, clinics rely on volunteer Community Health Workers (CHW) to do much of the transport work necessary to keep families healthy.
Frederic (seen below) is the President of COSAN (health committee) and Emergency Transport. He is also a big part of the bike program established in Menabe, West Madagascar, to ensure bike parts and repairs are easily accessible to the Community Health Care Workers. Providing bikes and services in the community serve as motivation for these volunteers to help make their efforts more productive and rewarding, bringing health care to a much needed area.
|Photographer: Robin Hammond/Panos for JSIMAHEFA Program, USAID|