Versatile motorbike doubles up as ambulance
Falling ill in inaccessible rural areas often means that patients take hours to get to a hospital - but not anymore.
The answer is an innovative product called the Ranger Ambulance, a combination of a motorcycle and ambulance which is fitted with a multi-function stretcher and seating unit.
It also has the capacity to carry medical supplies and equipment.
According to Terrence Harmse, operations manager for eRanger South Africa, which manufactures the ambulance, the unit can be adapted for many uses.
It could carry a fridge to store vaccines, a fold-up chair, a "sharps" container for the disposal of needles, and a scale to weigh babies.
It can also be used to carry educational tools, including DVD players and television sets.
"The uses are endless," Harmse said, adding that people who want to start their own business could use the unit.
"It can be adapted to be used in the pool-cleaning industry, as a hotdog stand and even as a telephone booth," he said.
According to promotional material on the product, the Ranger utility vehicle was designed to transport goods across the harsh and unforgiving landscape of the African continent.
"The proposed vehicle had to be durable, inexpensive, and capable of traversing the dirt tracks and paths that were inaccessible by standard forms of transport.
"Therefore the concept of a vehicle that combines the cost benefit and proven durability of off-road motorcycles with a large payload was born," says the promotional material.
Harmse said the Ranger Ambulance retails for about R31 000 - "cheaper than a 4x4 ambulance" - and R77 000 for the education unit.
He added that the units were being used with great success in the Eastern Cape - which had 22 ambulance units and four education units - as well as in Malawi, which had 10 units.
"We're assembling 40 units to be sent to south-east Asia to be used in areas affected by the tsunami," he said.
The company is looking to market the vehicle in rural areas of provinces such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the North West.
The Ranger utility vehicle is just one of several medical products currently on display at Vodaworld in Midrand as part of the Pan African Health Care Exhibition and Conference.
The exhibition, which started on Wednesday and runs until Friday, is aimed at providing solutions-based approaches to major healthcare issues in Africa.