Caption: A bodaboda ambulance carrying a mother and her baby
Caption: A bodaboda ambulance driver going to pick up a patient
Under the ambulance project, bodaboda motorcycles are used as ambulances to transport the expectant mothers to health centres for delivery.
The boda-boda ambulance project established to help expectant mothers to access health facilities in Kyenjojo district.
The project was launched after it was found out that most women in the district were delivered at their home because of lack of ambulances to rush them to hospitals and high transport costs.
According to the project, each cyclist is given a fuel voucher of shillings 10,000 when they take an expectant mother for delivery to the health facility.
Statistics at Kyenjojo district health department indicates that 65% of the women in the district have given birth in health centres and this has made a great impact in the health sector of Kyenjojo hospital.
Caption: A picture showing an ambulance bike carrying a pregnant woman in the red boot together with her husband and the driver
The sound of an ambulance siren is heard from a distance. Ignoring it is a normal thing since it is headed towards a health centre.
It is probably another patient being rushed to the hospital. But as the sound grows louder, and the approaching vehicle gets nearer, it becomes evident that it is not your everyday ambulance. It is a motorcycle ambulance approaching.
The pregnant women within the health centre compound are not bothered since this sound is familiar to them. It is also a common sight in the maternity wing.
But when the nurses and the midwife on duty run toward the tiny two-wheel vehicle, it becomes clear that the ambulance has a mother on board and she is not in good shape. The rider parks safely and runs to the back to open the doors. He helps the mother down and hands her over to the nurses who take her inside the maternity ward. This is another rescue effort made by the ambulance rider to enable a mother access a health facility for safe delivery.
Caption: A man showing how the boda-boda ambulance operates
“At the beginning, the women would delay at home thinking the labour pains are just starting only to call you when the mother is in advanced labour. That would mean that you move faster than normal speed,” he says.
“Previously, even transport was a problem. The husband would be looking around for someone to buy their chicken or matooke so that they get transport money to move the pregnant mother and all that time, labour is not waiting.
Once the mother gets into labour, she calls the boda-boda cyclists so that she is moved to the nearest health facility. The boda-boda cyclist gets a copy of the voucher and the other copy remains at the health facility. When the mother is taken to the hospital, the boda-boda cyclist makes a claim from Baylor-Uganda for the full distance covered say Shs5,000 or Shs7,000 after transporting the expectant mother to a health facility.
According to the Baylor Uganda spokesperson, Mr Paul Mayende, Shs1,000 is, therefore, a user fee to encourage efficiency and is not part of the payment that the boda-boda cyclist get.
The voucher was also introduced as part of the pilot project to bridge the transport gap as well as address the delays from home to health facility since one of the biggest reasons why expectant mothers never delivered from health facilities was lack of transport.
This intervention is supported under Saving Mothers, Giving Life project that is aimed at reducing maternal deaths by 50 percent. The project, which is funded by CDC, is implemented by Baylor-Uganda in partnership with Kabarole, Kamwenge and Kyenjojo local governments.
Caption: Ambulance bike parking at the hospital
“From the evaluation, we did after six months of the project, the number of health facility deliveries had increased from 6,000 to 16,000,” she says, adding that evaluation for the 12 months is ongoing and the results are expected in one month’s time.
Is there anything that a boda-boda(motorcycle) cannot do in Africa?