Riders for Health-Liberia Supports Improved Diagnostics

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Motorbikes are used to enhance the movement of personnel.

The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) recognizes the success of Liberia’s sample transport in strengthening the country’s diagnostics, the entity said in a release.

The national sample transport network in Liberia, operated by Riders for Health-Liberia on behalf of, and in close coordination with, the Government of Liberia, supports strengthening laboratory diagnostics through implementation of a robust, flexible specimen transport system for timely detection of diseases, a crucial factor in maintaining health system capacities to detect and respond to public health threats.

Riders for Health activities in the country are funded through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The GHSA “is a growing partnership of over 64 nations, international organizations, and non-governmental stakeholders, to help build countries’ capacity to create a world safe and secure from infectious disease’s threats and elevate global health security as a national and global priority.”

Tolbert Nyenswah, Director General of the National Public Health Institute in Liberia (NPHIL), praised Riders for Health’s implementation, noting: “The program is unique to the work of our institute as it is a most reliable means of getting specimens to the labs on time for diagnostic in the public health sector since it came to the country. We appreciate and would like to work with Riders-Liberia continuously.”

Riders’ health-focused transport systems have been implemented in  seven-affiliate country programs across Africa, with the newest program operating in Liberia since 2015. Its vision is for healthcare to reach “everyone everywhere,” including the most remote, rural parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. In countries in which Riders operates, road connectivity remains a challenge, making transportation and distribution of essential medical supplies and staff movement difficult.

Riders for Health Liberia, managed and operated by a team of international and national experts, has worked in close coordination with the Ministry of Health and the NPHIL to jointly combat the deadly Ebola Virus Disease and other infectious disease outbreaks.

According to the release, Liberia’s sample transport network has played an essential role in detecting and controlling disease threats beyond the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak, supporting the detection of multiple disease outbreaks, including but not limited to measles and Lassa fever outbreaks across multiple counties, meningococcal disease outbreaks in Sinoe and Lofa counties (April 2017, January 2018) and yellow fever in Grand Kru County (September 2018).

Riders-Liberia’s activities are implemented through a Cooperative Agreement funded by CDC. Through this partnership, Riders implements a reliable, cost effective and responsive bio-specimen sample referral network to facilitate rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases and other public health threats.

It uses a set of customized motorcycles to transport specimens from health facilities across the 15 counties to the laboratory for rapid diagnosis, prompting clinicians and other healthcare workers to carryout informed clinical and public health interventions and expedited treatment of immediately report-able diseases and conditions to prevent and control possible outbreaks.

The project supports transportation of samples for suspected priority infectious diseases under the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) system. Riders incorporates the use of an advanced technological system for bio-security through the use of mobile and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies for real-time data collection of specimen transport time, distance covered, and date and time of specimen’s delivery to the laboratories.

Riders for Health Liberia is a non-governmental organization operating across all 15 counties in affiliation with Riders for Health International. It has almost 30 years of expertise working with health authorities and other health-focused partners in Sub-Saharan Africa to strengthen and improve healthcare delivery systems through the provision of affordable and sustainable transport systems.

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