TransNet workshop on Mobility and Health26th November 2004, Bern, Switzerland
The significant contribution of transport and mobility to development and the livelihoods of poor people is widely recognized, however the development sector is yet to fully acknowledge and understand the role of transport in improving poor people’s health.
The TransNet workshop on Mobility and Health aimed to bridge this gap, bringing together transport and health specialists, many from the TransNet and IFRTD networks, to discuss the issues and develop a plan of action that will push this relatively new agenda forward.
The workshop agenda included 4 varied and insightful presentations, allowing plenty of time for reflection and debate among participants, followed by a brainstorming session to identify knowledge gaps and potential opportunities for action.
Kate Molesworth , a researcher at the Swiss Centre for International Health of the Swiss Tropical Institute synthesised the positive and negative impacts of the Almonsangu – Jiri road project in Nepal. Negatives included the exacerbation of female poverty, impacts on local trade, and the diffusion of infection, while positive impacts were seen in improved support and servicing of local health posts, improved access to regional health services and improved livelihood options.
Taye Berhanu of the Ethiopia National Forum for Rural Transport And Development (ENFRTD) focused on the transportation of critical and high risk patients in rural areas of Ethiopia, for example looking at the poor handling and positioning of patients on IMT’s which often leads to secondary injuries.
The third presentation by Mac Mashiri of the South Africa National Forum Group highlighted gaps in the way the Transport sector currently deals with the issue of HIV/AIDs. Their programme seeks to identify the scope for the transport sector to work in partnership with communities affected by areas of intense transport activity.
Finally we heard from Richard Hanson of Transaid on transport’s role in the delivery of health care. Although a hidden aspect of health service performance, transport is nonetheless a critical catalyst in the realization of health goals and Transaid has developed an holistic management system with demonstrable impact. For example in Ghana the Ministry of Heath’s health care delivery costs have been reduced with a corresponding rise in quality of service, a 400% increase in attended births and a 100% increase in child immunisation.
Key messages that participants took forward from the presentations and brainstorming session included:
• Transport interventions generate both positive and negative health impacts. To help to optimize the health potentials of mobility and transport activities the transport sector must fully assess the gaps in its knowledge, and make steps to share existing research and generate new research to fill the gaps.
• Health is broader than the health sector. The Transport sector needs to be proactive in sensitising the health sector to the importance of mobility as a cross cutting component of health interventions.
These themes generated a number of ideas for action including:
• An international Networked Research programme on mobility interventions and related health impacts, to increase understanding of the issues in different contexts.
• Developing tools that will enable transport professionals to include holistic health impact assessments at the planning stage of transport interventions. These should take account of all sectors of society and utilise both qualitative and qualitative approaches.
• A project to explore improved construction and utilisation of motorised and non motorized IMTs in patient transportation.
• An advocacy programme to sensitise the health sector to mobility and health issues.
The workshop was supported by both the Mobility and Health desks of The Swiss Development Cooperation’s Social Development department, a testament to their commitment to a cross-sectoral approach to development
TransNet is a Swiss based informal community of Practice (COP) of public, private, national and international actors in the transport field. The COP is an essential framework for the exchange of information and experience as well as providing a pool of expertise and a ‘think tank’ on mobility. TransNet organises twice yearly events for members and invited people to encourage networking, and thinking and learning on hot sector issues.
For more information about TransNet or the workshop please contact:
Animal Traction IMTs
Safety and Security
Regional East and South Africa
Regional West and Central Africa
Mobility as a Human Right MDGs
Regional Latin America