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Transaid continues to aid throughout pandemic

Transaid update - Emmanuel Kwenda with bicycle ambulance.jpg
Logistics charity, Transaid, provides SHD with an update on its programmes in sub-Saharan Africa.

The past year has seen the transport and logistics industry rise to the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. As an organisation backed by the UK transport and logistics industry and working to solve transport challenges in Africa, Transaid has also adapted its programmes to tackle COVID-19. In 2021, Transaid has continued to make progress in its aims to make roads safer and improve access to healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa, with the help of its UK corporate supporters.

Tackling malaria and COVID-19 in Zambia

In Zambia, Transaid is currently working on the MAMaZ Against Malaria (MAM) programme, which is in its third phase. MAM’s innovative, community-led response tackles severe malaria in rural communities by increasing awareness of the disease through the work of community health volunteers (CHVs), as well as improving access to health facilities through the use of bicycle ambulances.

Having first recorded a staggering 96% reduction in child mortality from severe malaria in its pilot phase, MAM is currently being scaled up to reach more than one million people in Zambia. In 2020, the MAM team also integrated a COVID-19 response into their activities, to sensitise communities about how to stay safe during the pandemic.

Bicycle ambulance riders are central to the success of the programme, volunteering to serve their communities by transporting suspected severe malaria cases to health facilities. Since many of the families in communities served by MAM live prohibitively far from health services, with no means of transportation besides walking, a bicycle ambulance can make all the difference in reducing the delay in receiving medical treatment.

Emmanuel Kwenda, from Kawaka community, is one of MAM’s newest bicycle ambulance riders, who was recently trained as part of the third phase of the programme. “Transport and healthcare, they should move together,” he explained. “When you are not using transport, it means you are causing deaths, because people come to the clinic very late. But when you are using fast transport, people can be helped”.

In April, Emmanuel attended training in Mbande, where he learnt to spot the danger signs of severe malaria, and received training on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As one of two bicycle ambulance riders for Kawaka, he feels “proud” to play a key role in keeping his community healthy. “We have learnt a lot,” he said, reflecting on his training, “and we are going to teach the community”.

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Expanding driver training in Ghana

Even as lockdowns required people to stay at home, transport and logistics workers around the world have continued to keep vital goods moving. Therefore, the need for professional driver training is as great as it’s ever been.

2021 saw Transaid expand their driver training work into Ghana, as part of their aims to make roads safer in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 7,000 people lost their lives on Ghana’s roads in 2016. This new project aims to improve road safety in the region by raising training standards and expanding training capacity for heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.

One of the key objectives of the programme is to develop an enhanced driver training curriculum specific to HGV drivers, and push for its adoption at a national level by the Ghanaian government – to ensure consistency of training standards across the country with the aim of saving lives.

Through its ‘Train the Trainer’ model, Transaid is building local skills to ensure sustainable and lasting change. The provision of quality professional driver training will be expanded to increase access and ensure that drivers are trained to the highest standards – in turn, improving their access to future jobs and helping to drive economic growth.

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