They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s so, PWRDF’s partners in Mozambique should be flattered that the bicycle ambulances that they have created, and that have captured the imaginations of Anglicans across Canada, have now been replicated in Asia.
As part of a maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) program in Bangladesh funded by PWRDF and the Canadian International Development Agency, PWRDF partner UBINIG has taken the idea of bicycle ambulances and run with it.
“UBINIG staff really liked the idea of bicycle ambulances,” said Zaida Bastos, PWRDF’s CIDA Program manager, who oversees the projects in Bangladesh as well as Mozambique. “So they took the idea and made it work in their own context.”
“Their own context” sounds simple, but is not, because UBINIG is working in 15 districts across Bangladesh, and each district has its own challenges: some are in hill country, others are prone to disasters, still others are know for rampant poverty. UBINIG has worked with local communities, government officials, and traditional birth attendants””known as dais“”to identify and address those local needs.
“When we build the tricycle ambulances, we need to build for the tallest woman who might need to sit in it,” said Palash Baral, UBINIG’s Programs Manager, “so the tallest woman on the planning team sits in the bed of the ambulance, and they build the frame around her.”
Baral went on to talk about the need to cross rivers to reach health clinics in Bangladesh””a problem that the arid regions of Mozambique don’t face. So boats are being built to ferry the tricycle ambulances across the rivers, each one constructed for the river it will serve. “Every river has different waves and wind,” said Baral.
Five tricycle ambulances and two boats were constructed in 2012, and already another four ambulances and one more boat have been built this year. By the end of PWRDF’s current program in Bangladesh, each of the 130 dai ghors (maternal health houses) that will service over 500 villages in the 15 districts will have its own tricycle ambulance, and five boats will enable those ambulances to cross rivers on the way.
Who knows where bicycle ambulances will appear next!