Flying the MSF route last week I was met at the Zobia airstrip by the new motorcycle ambulance. It is quite a thing of beauty when you think that many of the patients have to be carried for many long hours, or even days sometimes, to get to medical treatment. I have talked before on this blog about guys bouncing down rough dirt roads on the back of a motorcycle with broken legs or big open wounds in their abdomens and then lying on the ground under the wing trying to gather themselves together before getting into the plane. Although there is no perfect solution for these rough roads, this is a great improvement and I enjoyed seeing it in action.
Here is how it works: The patient can either sit or lie down. There is a bit of storage space under the bed and a rickshaw type of cover to protect from the tropical sun for a bit more comfort. Seems that the motorcycle sidecar ambulance is the appropriate technology for this area of Congo!
On the way home through Nebobongo I was given a big plastic bag to take to one of our workers in Nyankunde. When I picked it up to put it in the plane my hands were pricked by many little stickers and it seemed to be alive. I opened the bag and saw that it was caterpillar season again in the Ituri forest. Caterpillars are a delicacy throughout Africa and I have seen them piled a meter high in some markets. Yummy. And good for scratchy throat!