A California-based nonprofit is helping deliver an effective solution to the ongoing issue of health care accessibility in Zambia.
Zambikes International, founded in 2007 as a high-quality bicycle manufacturer, has been distributing hundreds of "zambulances," small trailers attached to bicycles or motorcycles, to provide remote Zambian communities with a practical and comfortable method of medical transportation. The nonprofit has delivered almost 1,000 Zambulances to various rural Zambian regions, according to its website.
Although Zambikes develops its own bicycle models and other transportation accessories -- such as cargo trailers -- the organization's executive director, Tom Larson, feels that the its most socially important invention has been the Zambulance.
"Our biggest opportunity for impacting the world is saving lives through the Zambulance," he told the Denver Post in a recent interview.
After noticing the impact in Zambia -- a country that suffers from one of the worst maternal birth ratios in the world -- the organization's co-founder, 28 year-old Dustin McBride, decided to expand the Zambulance project to other Southern African regions in need of adequate medical transportation, he told Fox News.
Zambikes plans to spread its mission to South Sudan, Uganda, Malawai, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. In fact, the organization's website states that it has already delivered 125 Zambulances to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 50 to remote regions in Uganda, and 25 to Malawi.
Zambikes' impressive work addresses a significant part of a larger issue of health care accessibility in Southern Africa.
A lack of access to health services in Zambia, for example, is caused not only by inadequate means of transportation but also by a deficiency of skilled doctors and nurses, Chelsea Clinton recently wrote in a blog piece for the Clinton Foundation.
"In Zambia today, there is one doctor for every 23,000 people, well above the World Health Organization’s recommended ratio of one doctor and nurse to 7,000 people for Africa," she wrote. "As a result, people die from preventable or curable ailments because they fail to get medical assistance in time, unable to travel the long distance to the nearest medical facility."
One Zambulance, which costs about $1,000 to manufacture, can save up to 26 lives per year, Zambikes' website reports. They aim to eventually distribute 20,000 Zambulances across Southern Africa, which would save an estimated 520,000 lives per year.