By Joshua Oballim: The bicycles form a transportation system for rural health access, improving the capacity of patients in rural villages to access health services more efficiently and more frequently. This project is also assisting efforts to rebuild communities after 20 years of war.

From 1986 to 2007, Northern Uganda was gripped in a civil war fought predominantly by the Lords Resistance Army against the government of Uganda; however, the real victims of this war were the people of Northern Uganda. Over 100,000 people were killed and over 30,000 children were abducted and used as soldiers or sex slaves. By 1996, 2 million people, 95% of the population, were forced by the government into Internally Displaced Peoples’ camps with overcrowded conditions and without adequate food supply and diet, sanitation or water. During this time in the camps, people were unable to farm and subsisted solely on United Nations food distribution. Now people are back home, farming and involving themselves in various income generating activities but what remains the greatest challenge is health conditions and access to proper health care services for the rural population

Since the war, health statistics reflecting the daily reality in Northern Uganda, have been dire. Looking at the number of women who die in childbirth in Northern Uganda every year, compare to other parts of the world. There is high and still increasing HIV/AIDs transmission from mother to child because pregnant mothers do not have access to proper health facilities for antenatal care.

Riding a bicycle is about 4-times more efficient than walking, and the high majority of Village population previously walked when looking for health services including the village health teams to patients in rural areas. Bicycles have improved the overall outreach effort by Village Health Workers of monitoring, supporting and responding to the health of people in rural Northern Uganda and have increased the speed of their response time in the case of emergencies. In areas with an absence of motorized transportation, bicycle ambulances will be utilized to help transport patients to the health centre. Also helping a lot of communities in accessing far distant health facilities.

“Akello Milly, a 34 year old farmer and mother of 5 children, a BAP Bicycle beneficiary from Lacan Kwo ki Lwete youth group in a place called Onek Gwok (ongako sub-county) says she is using her bicycles to access proper health care services for her 5 children which has improved a lot because two of her children were malnourished but since she had easy access to the health facility, they are now fine, among other things include transporting 3 of her children to a 5Km away school called Tong-wiri and reaching the main market to buy food stuff in bulk for retail re-sale she says”.

The focus of Bicycles Against Poverty is: “Fighting Poverty through improving access to health Health - Diseases are not only caused by poverty, but are themselves a major cause of poverty. Access to affordable, quality health care is crucial to breaking the vicious circle of poverty leading to poor health and vice versa. BAP contributes to social development by offering Bicycles to improve accessibility to quality medical assistance.”

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