Third Sector Excellence Awards 2013: Big Impact award - Winner: Riders for Health: Sample Transport

Awarded to a charity, social enterprise or other kind of voluntary organisation that has run a project that has had a substantial impact on national or international life

Riders for Health: Sample Transport
Riders for Health: Sample Transport

- What is the project?

In 2008, Riders for Health developed Sample Transport, a motorcycle courier system, in Lesotho, southern Africa, designed to reduce the time that patients wait for critical medical test results for diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV. The couriers collect patients' samples from health centres, transport them to a laboratory and return with the results. Each courier is given a special backpack to protect the samples in transit.

- Where does it work?

Since the first pilot scheme was launched in Lesotho, it has been expanded into two districts of Zambia and 13 districts of Zimbabwe. Sample Transport now connects more than 500 health centres to 40 laboratories in the three countries.

- Why did it win?

The project has reduced waiting times for results in Lesotho by 50 per cent. The charity aims to link nine million people to diagnostic services by the end of this year. In December 2012, the Lesotho government promised to cover a third of the project's running costs over the next five years. According to Dr Mphu Ramatlapeng, former minister of health for Lesotho, the project has been "one of the biggest resources we've ever had. It's saving lives."

- What did the judges say?

Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said: "The project has strong evidence that it made an impact and is providing transformational outcomes internationally."

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