Why a Village Ambulance? What’s wrong with vehicle Ambulances in Uganda?

Most Districts are allotted one ambulance and a meager 100 liters of fuel for the year. The costs of use are shifted to the patients themselves and using one will cost someone 40,000-200,000+ UGX. Uganda’s Ministry of Health has publicly stated that they don’t have money to purchase more vehicle ambulances and that they don’t have the money to currently maintain the ones in the field, leaving the distributed ambulances vulnerable to breakdown or unused for years. In addition, vehicle ambulances are usually unable to access the narrow bumpy roads to reach certain villages.

The problem is very real. Maternal mortality is a huge issue in Uganda. With 90% of Ugandans living in rural areas, having an affordable, reliable way to reach the nearest medical clinic remains a huge unmet need (The World Bank, 2011).

Does the Village Ambulance need shock absorbers?

Our innovative design doesn’t need them. With our 4-inch thick foam mattress, sturdy 18-inch motorcycle wheels and all-terrain tyres, the ride is very comfortable. Additionally, shock absorbers would add to the weight, cost, and overall complexity of maintenance. However, shock absorbers are now available for Village Ambulance’s that will be pulled exclusively by a motorcycle.

Can the Village Ambulance be pulled by any bicycle or motorcycle? Are bicycles still effective when the road conditions are bad?

Yes! Our custom clamp-hitch design can be easily attached, unattached and reattached to virtually any bicycle or motorcycle with a rear rack. Every Village Ambulance is provided inclusive of one clamp-hitch. In addition, the tow bar has handles with motorcycle grips. This allows the driver, if going over a rocky section or a river, to unattach the Village Ambulance, pull it by hand through the challenging section for added safety, then reattach and continue. In some areas, patients pull/push the Village Ambulance by hand for several kilometers to the nearest clinic. Whether pushed/pulled by hand, bicycle, or boda, the Village Ambulance is flexible and adaptable.

Is one Village Ambulance enough for one village?

In most cases we’ve seen, one Village Ambulance has been sufficient to serve the people of the village in which it’s stationed. However, because some villages are larger than others and may have a higher population, addressing this on a case-by-case basis is really the best way to answer this question. While it’s possible that some communities would be better off with two or more Village Ambulances, we think that beginning with at least one Village Ambulance per village is a great start and you can always add more units from there, based on the need.

How is the Village Ambulance system being operated in the rural communities?

The Village Ambulance systems operating in the rural communities vary between communities. We consider our partner organizations to be the true experts in developing sustainable health programs that incorporate the Village Ambulance in their respective communities. In some cases, our partners have used a pre-qualified boda-boda system, where the community agrees with the bodas on the set prices. From there, the boda-bodas’ phone numbers are widely advertised throughout the community so that when people need a ride to the clinic or hospital, they simply call the driver who organizes to retrieve the Village Ambulance from the local storage space.

Other great ideas? We’ve seen communities introduce a voucher system for using the ambulance. Other villages rely on volunteer members of their Village Health Team (VHT) and have implemented a system where the VHTs store the Village Ambulance in their home so that patients contact them directly when they need a ride to a health facility. In this case, the VHT is always responsible for organizing a driver, either by riding a bicycle himself or herself or by calling a trusted boda-boda nearby.

The above-mentioned examples are when the ambulance is stored in the village. Several of our other partners have decided to station the Village Ambulance at a medical clinic to be used specifically for hospital referrals. We realize that no two communities are the same so we want to help provide the best operating solution for your target communities.

How easy is it to replace parts?

Because the Village Ambulances are manufactured within Kampala, we source every part locally. From the 8mm bolt to the mattress to the motorcycle tires and tubes, careful thought is put into every part to ensure that if replacement is needed, local parts can be found. You can purchase spare parts for the Village Ambulance as well as extra tool kits from Pulse.

How long do the Village Ambulances last?

Village Ambulances that were placed in Zambia five years ago are still in operation today. Our product is estimated to last at 7-10 years, possibly even longer!

I want to add a seatbelt/ IV stand/medical kit/extra window. Is that possible?

It’s our pleasure to meet the needs of our customers and we are happy to discuss how you would like to customize your orders.

How much does the Village Ambulance cost?

It would be our pleasure to provide you with a quotation. Please feel free to email us at info@pulse.ug, come visit us at Warehouse #70, Tirupati Business Park, Kyebando, Kampala, Uganda, or call us at +256 776 353935 / +256 716 353935.