Transaid, an international transport development charity, helped almost 1,000 expectant mothers in Uganda to deliver their babies at healthcare facilities in the last quarter of 2014 alone – and expects these numbers to increase throughout 2015 by continuing to improve and implement access to safe and affordable transportation.
This emergency transport project funded by MERCK for Mothers, and implemented with PACE (Programme for Accessible Health, Communication and Education), began in 2012 with the aim of highlighting the avoidable challenges pregnant women have to overcome in order to receive medical attention. The goal was to introduce a sustainable system to facilitate better access to maternal health services through improved emergency transportation.
During the initial research Transaid discovered that the women in the five districts identified for the project expressed a preference to deliver their children at a hospital health facility. They stated that one major constraint to this was a lack of affordable transport options which often led to women having home births without a trained professional in attendance or the proper ante- and post-natal care.
As part of the programme, Boda Boda riders (local motorcycle taxis) are encouraged to volunteer their services at a reduced rate when an expectant woman needs to get to a health facility. In return, support is being given to boda boda riders to increase their income by expanding their client base.
The project is promoted by local volunteers called ‘Mama & Tata Ambassadors’ who conduct home visits to expectant mothers to introduce the initiative and distribute the riders’ contact numbers. It is also introduced to expectant mothers through the health facilities associated with the project and boda boda riders themselves.
Gary Forster, CEO of Transaid, says: “Traditional methods of walking or rounding up an ox-cart are inappropriate and time consuming for women in labour. Each minute’s delay to reaching a health facility has an impact on the health of both mother and baby, which is why ensuring that remote areas have transport systems that can be relied on in the event of an emergency is so vital.
“It’s hugely rewarding to see the impact that our project is having on the lives of pregnant women in isolated areas. To be able to play a part in the safe delivery of their children makes everything we do worthwhile,” he adds.
Before identifying the most suitable transport solution, Transaid organised face-to-face interviews and village group consultations to understand the existing barriers to healthcare, such as transportation costs, and to find the most appropriate solution to this problem.
Transaid has developed a number of similar programmes, including the Emergency Transport Scheme in Nigeria using taxis and the MORE MAMaZ project in Zambia which utilises bicycle ambulances to help pregnant women receive obstetric medical attention.
For more information or to find out how you can support the charity visit www.transaid.org.
Note to Editor:
Transaid (www.transaid.org) is an international development agency that aims to improve people’s quality of life in the developing world by making transport more available and affordable. It was founded by Save the Children and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK) and works by sharing skills and knowledge with local people to enable them to put in place and manage efficient transport systems.
Transaid’s core work includes creating transport management systems for the public sector and assisting with the provision of professional driving qualification development and the training of driver trainers. It also assists with teaching preventive vehicle maintenance management and introducing local, low cost transport solutions including its innovative bicycle ambulance. Transaid also helps promote road safety awareness and shares its specialist knowledge with the humanitarian aid sector.
Transaid enjoys strong backing from the transport and logistics industry and the active involvement of its patron, HRH The Princess Royal.
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