Andrea Coleman: Two Wheels to an African Health Revolution

Andrea Coleman: Two Wheels to an African Health Revolution

Riders for Health cofounder says motorcycles are saving lives in Africa.

It certainly is not rocket science; it’s just putting an appropriate infrastructure where there is no transportation infrastructure.

A needle. A scalpel. A wrench. Which of these is an indispensible tool in the fight to improve healthcare in Africa? Answer: all of ’em. Here’s why: On a continent where roads—if they exist at all—are untarred and often pockmarked with gaping potholes, motorcycles have become the vessel of choice for ferrying medicine to people. This fact is the premise upon which Andrea Coleman cofounded Riders for Health in 1996. “We make sure that vehicles are managed and keep running on a predictable and reliable and cost-effective basis so that people in rural communities don’t die of easily preventable disease simply because they cannot be reached,” says Coleman. The organization has been stunningly successful: In 2002, after Riders began operating in Gambia, there was a 261 percent, 75 percent, and 55 percent increase in diagnoses of diarrhea, acute respiratory infection, and malaria, compared to 2001.


TakePart traveled to the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England, to pick the brains of the world’s biggest thinkers. These Innovators in Action are changing the face of the future with bold new ideas and profound enthusiasm. Motivated by personal experience and fueled by the hope that things can get better, these innovators—each of them true social entrepreneurs—are improving our world, one brilliant business idea at a time.

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