Health for All was set up by Simon Milward and Willy Balawala in 2002 to bring the benefits of vehicle management systems developed in Africa to the remote region of East Flores in Indonesia.
At the time Willy Balawala, was working as Outreach Manager for Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) in Indonesia. Willy was trained at the Riders for Health International Academy of Vehicle Management in Zimbabwe and took over project management of Health for All.
The project was then set up with twelve motorcycles provided for the use of Health Ministry workers.
During July 2000 Willy Balawala currently Health for All (HfA) Executive Director, conducted focus group discussions with health workers from all public health centres in East Flores District, Flores Island, Indonesia. During the course of the discussion he heard many stories about the bad health situation in the area. A great number of pregnant women in rural villages were suffering from anaemia and were sometimes dying due to severe bleeding during childbirth.
There were also many children suffering from malnutrition. In addition there were many other life-threatening illnesses such as diarrhoea, malaria and TB, that could be medically treated if those in rural areas had adequate access to healthcare.
One of the main factors which exacerbates these health problems is that people in isolated areas lack access to health facilities. People have difficulty visiting health centres due to the limited availability of public transport.
Similarly health workers do not have vehicles that can be used to reach the isolated villages within their area of responsibility. As a consequence, many people die due to the absence of health workers, or people delay referring emergency cases to health centres due to limited transport options.
There were a few motorcycles distributed by Government for operational activites but the problem was that those vehicles were not well maintained and damage was not repaired. Sometimes operational vehicles became personal property which were used for personal needs which meant that the operational expenses of the vehicles should be shouldered by the riders themselves.
There was an absence of a sustainable system that could manage transportation for Mobile Health Services.
In September 2000 Willy (at that point working with Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Belgium happened to meet Simon Milward, in Kupang, West Timor, during Simon’s round the world Millennium motorcycle ride.
During their brief meeting they discussed the health issues outlined above and the importance of adequate transport to improve the quality of healthcare for people in remote areas. Willy maintained contact with Simon, who later put him in contact with Riders for Health (RfH) UK.
Willy discovered that RfH had already developed a programme of transport resource management for health delivery in several countries in Africa. Expressing his intention to design a similar program in Indonesia, Simon and RfH then sponsored Willy to undergo training at the programme being implemented in Harare, Zimbabwe in February 2001.