Rural Health Care Delivery … and Bicycles??

Spring/Summer 1996 InGear

The Society Taking Active Responsibility for International Self-Help (STARFISH), an Ohio-based non-profit agency, and Pedals for Progress (P4P), a New Jersey non-profit specializing in mobilizing overseas development, have joined to more effectively deliver medical services to rural communities in an impoverished corner of the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar.

STARFISH and P4P are supporting the Malagasy medical assistance agency Action Sante Organization Secours (ASOS) to deliver regular immunization and other health services to rural communities located within the Andohahela Nature Preserve. Until now, these remote villages were accessible only by foot and have received few outside medical services. STARFISH is donating medical supplies valued at $5000 and the services of a volunteer public health nurse, while Pedals for Progress is donating eight new 18-speed Mongoose mountain bicycles distributed by Service Cycle, Inc., a well known American bicycle distributor, along with spare parts, tools, and a volunteer mechanic trainer.

ASOS physicians and nurses, accompanied by STARFISH and Pedals for Progress personnel, will travel through the region over a two week period in June 1996. The enhanced transportation capacity provided ASOS by mountain bikes will cut the valuable travel time of participating personnel by more than half, and will be made sustainable through the training of local support personnel and a continuing resupply of parts.

This innovative and technologically appropriate health services delivery effort complements an on-going World Wildlife Fund (WWF) biodiversity conservation project in the territory including and surrounding the Andohahela Nature preserve, a region containing a large number of threatened plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. WWF will assist shipping and Customs and port clearances for the medicines and bikes.

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