Monday, February 13, 2012

An interesting piece on bicycle ambulances in the Malawi Daily Times

An interesting piece in the Daily Times edition of Monday, February 13th offers yet another dimension on the mediocrity of 'bicycle ambulances'. While my  recent piece on the subject of bicycle ambulances, which was also echoed and expounded upon by Dadakim on her excellent Haba na Haba blog  argued about the inappropriateness of using bicycles as ambulances, the Daily Times article brings in a rather interesting dimension in that despite their continued promotion, the supposed beneficiaries are refusing to use them. One person who works for an organization that has been pushing bicycle ambulances acknowledges in the daily Times article that this technology was imposed on the people without listening to their need first:
"I think the preferences of the people were not looked into when introducing the bicycle ambulances. Sick people hate them because they equate them to hospital stretchers which are used at hospitals to carry dead bodies....Maleya said despite the ambulances being distributed, he has a strong feeling that most of them are not used."
The article ends with the interesting observation by Maleya, who is the District Aids Coordinator for Mchinji district in central Malawi that despite the strong resistance by the public to use bicycle ambulances, they "are important and what was required was sensitisation to change the people's attitudes." This is a classic case of partners and officials who think they know better than the people they are trying to serve. Considering that the people featured in the Daily Times piece are said to prefer to use ox-carts to ferry sick people to hospitals, it  is interesting that the advocates of  bicycle ambulances do not even attempt to make any argument about why bicycle ambulances are better than the oxcarts and simply claim they are important. While I would not advocate for using ox-carts as a new form of ambulances either, the proponents of bicycle-ambulances could do better in my view to support and help to improve the ox-cart ambulance technology instead of thinking they know better and will continue to push bicycles on a people that are resisting them.

No comments: