ASRI's Ambulances Save Lives - and Trees!

Medical transportation is one of the most significant barriers to treatment for rural communities in Borneo. ASRI's ambulances help break down that barrier. But there's no need to sell timber to pay for the ambulance ride -- in fact, many patients pay for these bring more seedlings to our reforestation sites.

ASRI Driver Pak Romi smiles in front of one of ASRI's ambulances | Photo: Oka Nurlaila, ASRI

What if patients at ASRI's medical clinic need special equipment, intensive care, or other special services? When that happens, ASRI staff speed the patient to a larger medical facility in the city of Ketapang. Thanks to a grant from the Japanese Embassy in Indonesia, ASRI was able to increase it's capacity to do this by purchasing a second ambulance in December 2018.

Like other medical services at the ASRI, patients in need of medical transportation are able to pay in non-cash payments.

This small fleet of two ambulances represent some of the only realistic options for emergency transportation for the communities near Gunung Palung National Park. And because patients can pay for their ambulance ride with seedlings or other barter items, the ambulances are affordable for even the poorest families.

But transportation is not just a barrier to emergency care - for many patients, remote locations prevent them from accessing primary care as well. Diarrheal diseases, HIV, and polio are some of the most common causes of death in Indonesia. And all of these can be prevented through access to basic healthcare knowledge and services. That's why ASRI's monthly mobile clinics are an important complement to the two ambulances - since regular checkups help ensure that chronic, treatable disease don't become life threatening!

Each month, ASRI medical staff travel into the countryside to visit communities that would otherwise have little or no access to healthcare - in fact, some of these villages are more than 5 hours away. By bringing the doctor to them, the clinics eliminate transportation as a barrier to care.


Loading up the truck with seedlings to plant in the rainforest! | Photo: Oka Nurlaila, ASRI

But these services don't just benefit patients. With the same vehicle that ASRI staff use to run mobile clinics, they also collect seedlings and supplies from patients around the community. Years from now, the seedlings that patients give us today will stand tall, helping mitigate climate change and also keeping the area less vulnerable to malaria and waterborne disease. In this way, we are helping humans and the ecosystem be healthier together!

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About Emily Ausman | View all posts by Emily Ausman