Riders for Health began nationwide operations in Lesotho mobilising outreach health workers on motorcycles. This initial programme showcased Riders’ unique offering of managing and maintaining a fleet of vehicles used in health care delivery.
Soon after, Riders was approached by the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to develop a new specialist transport system to address a fundamental need in health care delivery – the transportation of patient medical samples and test results. Sample Transport now operates across all ten districts of the country.
Mobilising outreach health workers
Initially financed by the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), this programme directly supports the outreach work of the Lesotho Ministry of Health (MoH). Riders are currently mobilising 90 Environmental Health Technicians across all ten districts of Lesotho. These health workers spend the majority of their time in communities providing health care services such as health education.
Sample Transport (ST)
Riders’ motorcycle courier service was specifically designed to reduce the delay in monitoring and diagnosing disease like HIV and tuberculosis.
Dedicated motorcycle couriers transport patient specimens between health centres and the laboratory in a professional, consistent and controlled manner. After analysis, the test results are returned and patients can be started on a suitable course of treatment as soon as possible, if necessary.
Now 30 ST couriers link primary health facilities with their local district laboratory in Lesotho, bringing reliability to the transportation of samples and their results.
Our office and workshop are based in Maseru, providing technical services for motorcycles running across Lesotho’s 10 districts.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost a quarter of Lesotho’s population are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS. Such a high prevalence of HIV has also fuelled a rise in tuberculosis, with the control of drug-resistant strains proving a particular challenge.
Health care delivery is particularly difficult in Lesotho because of the extremely mountainous terrain. Over 70% of the population lives in remote rural villages, often several hours walk over rough mountain paths from the nearest clinic.
One of the major challenges in managing diseases like HIV is the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of the disease. The laboratory is pivotal to the provision of these services, but mountainous terrain, distance and a lack of transport means that they are not easily accessible – and the effective diagnosis and treatment of patients extremely difficult.
Riders' reliable fleet management systems, including the mobilisation of health workers and Sample Transport, support our partner organisations in achieving their health-related goals.
- The Ministry of Health (MOH)
- Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL)
- The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)
- Cowater International
- Elton John Aids Foundation (EJAF)
- The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
- Mēdecins sans Frontières (MSF)
- mothers2mothers (m2m)
Riders’ work in Lesotho first began in 1991 managing motorcycles for outreach health workers. This programme lasted for seven years, during which we didn’t experience a single breakdown.
In 2008, we launched a new programme mobilising outreach health workers across the country for the Ministry of Health (MoH). At the request of the MoH and Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Riders developed a specialist motorcycle courier system to address the transportation of patient medical samples and test results. In October 2008, Riders piloted the first ever Sample Transport programme in the Qacha’s Nek district and within one year has scaled up to all ten districts.
Now Riders continues to operate a nationwide service in Lesotho and is looking to expand more into managing other partners’ vehicles as well as four-wheeled vehicles.
The average turnaround time for patients receiving their test results has been cut in half. Before Riders’ ST programme, it took 15 days for a health centre to receive patient test results from the laboratory. Now it takes just a week meaning that the patient can be put on the correct course of treatment faster, benefiting their health and the health of those around them.
Country Director: Mahali Hlasa
Mahali was trained to ride a motorcycle under Riders’ first nationwide motorcycle fleet programme in Lesotho in 1991 when she was working as a health worker for the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Her success as a rider saw her become Riders’ first female trainer.
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Our attendance has increased because the samples are collected twice a week, rather than before when the patients would have to walk to the hospital to get tested. Francina Letsika, Nurse Assistant, Seshote Health Centre, Leribe district