Taking Off


Decent public transport is taken as a right in many countries. But for many, access to vital transport is a major problem. This Hands On programme looks at developments that help people get around, linking them to essential services, such as emergency medical care.

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Wheels to go – Tanzania

Over twenty million people around the world need wheelchairs to move around. In developing countries wheelchairs are often donated, but many users find these are unable to cope with local conditions such as poor roads and rough ground. Now, local technicians are being trained to build wheelchairs in country. Designed for these specific environments and built with readily available materials, they are dramatically changing the lives of disabled people.

Making Waves – Portugal

Tourism plays a major part in Portugal’s economy. Every year 12 million foreign tourists head to Portugal to take advantage of the good climate. Its fine beaches are also an attraction, but unfortunately many holidaymakers fail to recognise the dangers of the sea and its tidal currents. Around 30 people a year die in drowning accidents. If the tourism industry is to continue to boom visitors need to be safe. One initiative on Portugal’s beaches is bringing safety to beach users and the lifeguards who look after them.

Health’s Angels – The Gambia

In Africa the lack of reliable transport is a major problem faced by people on a daily basis. In some countries an ambulance provides a vital link to health services – transporting patients, vaccines and life-saving medicines. But in rural Gambia there is little or no mechanised transport, so people die from curable diseases simply because the nearest clinic or hospital is too far away. Now, however, in areas where roads are poor and petrol is expensive, motorbikes are proving the best way for community medics to deliver lifesaving help.

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Cross Country Traffic – Cambodia and Vietnam

Good roads provide an economic lifeline for remote areas, allowing the transportation of goods and also enabling people to access services such as education and health. In rural parts of Cambodia and Vietnam road conditions are generally poor, with ruts and gaping potholes slowing down and damaging vehicles, and raising transport costs. New ways of using cheap local materials are smoothing out these roads allowing access for South East Asia’s cross-country traffic.

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Pre Flight Checks – Tanzania and Kenya

The renowned Flying Doctor service carries out specialist health care across Africa. The airborne doctors are often the only medical support available for the remotest regions. But these doctors are hampered by a lack of information about the cases they will face when they land, or even the availability of medical equipment and supplies on the ground. Now technology is giving them a head start in preparing for their flights of mercy.