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Ride for Refuge and support health workers in Africa

Rosa’s bicycle helps her to cover the more than 1500 square kilometers of her territory as a Community Health Worker in Mozambique. Photo: Zaida Bastos

September 9, 2016

By Simon Chambers

Rosa is a Community Health Worker in Meconta District in Mozambique. She is the first-line of health information and care to hundreds of pregnant women, children and men in five villages. The territory she covers includes over 1500 square kilometers and is home to about 20,000 people.

She couldn’t visit the 100 households with active patients that she has on her case load at any given time without the bicycle that was provided to her by PWRDF partner EHALE (which means Health in the local language). PWRDF, with funding from Global Affairs Canada, provides training and support to Rosa and hundreds of other Community Health Workers in rural areas of Mozambique, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

“They are the vital connection to improve the health of the population,” said Zaida Bastos, PWRDF’s Development Partnership Program Director. Meconta District is one of the poorest regions of the world. Zaida shared some statistics on the region:

  • Area: 3786 square kilometers
  • Population: 147,145
  • Paved roads: 1
  • 75% of the population is illiterate
  • 79% do not have access to radio
  • 96% do not have electricity in their homes
  • 99% do not have running water
  • 95% are subsistence farmers

In the face of these challenges, Community Health Workers like Rosa act as information distributors, mobilizing communities, educating them about health care issues like cholera, the importance of vaccinations, nutrition, and more. They accompany pregnant women through the course of their pregnancies, encouraging them to attend medical appointments, advocating on their behalf, and interpreting the medical information for the women. They are often the first to notice when someone has fallen ill and to help them get tested for HIV or other diseases.

PWRDF, through the Ride for Refuge, is raising funds to provide bicycles to some of the hundreds of Community Health Workers who are the backbone of its health care program in the four countries. The funds raised will be matched 6:1 by Global Affairs Canada, meaning that a $100 bicycle can be given to a health worker for every $15 raised.

You can join the Ride for Refuge on October 1 and ride (or walk) for a PWRDF team, form your own team, or ride anywhere. You can also donate to support a rider or team. However you support the Ride, know that your support is helping men and women like Rosa to improve the health of rural populations in hundreds of villages in Africa.