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The Zambulance – a life-saving bicycle trailer


September 20, 2010

The Zambulance provides medical transportation to people in developing nations

The Zambulance provides medical transportation to people in developing nations

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According to a recent study, over 60 percent of people in developing countries live more than eight kilometers (five miles) from a healthcare facility. As you can imagine, most of these people don’t own cars, or even have access to motorized ambulance services. When they require urgent medical attention, they often have to walk, are loaded into an ox cart or wheelbarrow, or have to sit on the rack of a bicycle. Fortunately, however, an alternative is available to some – the Zambulance. While the bicycle trailer/ambulance might seem like very basic medical transportation, early trials indicate that it’s truly life-saving.

The Zambulance is made by Zambikes, a Zambian company that manufactures and sells bicycles, both to companies and individuals. It operates as a social business, meaning that although it is a private for-profit enterprise, all of its year-end profits are invested back into the business and the surrounding community. It also provides job training and employment for people who otherwise might have none.

The Zambulance is simply a bicycle trailer with a liquid-impervious mattress which allows patients to lie flat in relative comfort. A curtain provides privacy, along with shelter from heat and rain. Options such as intravenous hangers are also available.

During a four-month period, 40 Zambulances were tested out in African communities. Caregivers reported using the trailers 82 times, and classified 86 percent of those trips as “lifesaving.” According to the World Health Organization, one Ugandan community went from having approximately 30 women a year die while in childbirth, to none after a year of using a bicycle ambulance. Another study determined that a Zambulance saves one life for every nine days it’s in use.

Such figures aren't hard to believe, when you consider that a 2.5-km (1.55-mile) trip that took two to three hours by ox cart, reportedly now takes 30 minutes by Zambulance. There are some limitations to the technology, namely steep hills and muddy roads. With current advances in both electric bicycles and solar power, however, perhaps at least the hill-climbing issue can be addressed.

Via AfriGadget.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Something is wrong....

\"a 2.5-km (1.55-mile) trip that took two to three hours by ox cart, reportedly now takes 30 minutes by Zambulance\"

Ox travel at a nice walking speed... say 3.5 - 4Kmh.... perhaps that should be 25Km...

Dunno something is lost in the translation.

As the only person who I have ever met who has moved a washing machine on a motorbike....

The Zambulance is a great idea....

BUT it needs independent swing arm suspension... 150mm or 6\" of travel would be plenty.

Mr Stiffy

As someone who works in Zambia and who works with Zambikes, the bikes and Zambulances are great. In fact, we are trying to raise funds to distribute more of them for rural communities. Did you know Zambikes also makes bamboo bikes? Visit my fundraising page www.everydayhero.com.au/bamboobikes

Tim Budge

Looks like it could double as a way to haul goods to market, or be a homeless shelter, too (which moves with the owner).

Lots of options, besides the great ambulance idea.

Matt Rings
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