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Maternal Healthcare

Motorcycle ambulances increasing access to care

In Nairobi and other urban areas, calling for an ambulance or a taxi to take a patient to hospital for emergency care is quite easy.

Yet despite their clear value, in many rural areas within the country, such vehicles are not easily available and a majority live more than 5 km from a health center.

While ambulance from a nearby hospital could be an option, patients, mostly poor women seeking childbirth services cannot afford the charges.

Taxis come by rural areas only sporadically, if at all.

This makes traditional transportation options largely inaccessible to rural women.

For lack of alternative, they otherwise choose to deliver their babies at home, oblivious of the dangers that come with it.

Additionally, there are only narrow paths that are very hard to navigate in normal vehicles. The roads also washout during rainy seasons, making it nearly impossible to safely operate traditional ambulances.

For these reasons, St John Ambulance came up with an innovative, cost-effective motorcycle ambulance system.

Since their introduction in 2015, they have evacuated more than 1,000 people to hospital for maternal healthcare.

Volunteers from the community are trained as para-engineers, with skills to offer paramedical care, drive the ambulances and repair it when spoiled.

The ambulance is stationed in the village so one can run to the rider even if they do not have a mobile phone. Patients pay Sh 50 to contribute to the cost of fuel.