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Maternal Health

Maternal Health

As Kenya strives to attain millennium development goals, it is emerging that each day 15 women and 290 children lose their lives as a result of avoidable pregnancy complications.

This worrying trend premised the St John’s initiative to introduce special motorcycle ambulances to help mothers deliver in hospital.

Giving birth is a pleasant experience in most Kenyan families. It is celebrated not only by the mother who gives rise to a new life, but also cherished by the wider community who welcome their new member.

But this is not the case in some remote rural villages in Kenya, such as Wayu Boro in Tana River, where women succumb to preventable maternal complications because they lack means of transportation to hospital.

Miss Hassan Dumo, a resident of Wayuboro, Tana River County, recounts her experiences of how remoteness to hospital places mothers and their children in grave danger:

“We have encountered our neighbors deliver by the roadside or on wheelbarrows because an ambulance cannot reach them as a result of bad terrain.”

Already four motorcycle ambulances have been acquired for piloting in four remote villages in Tana River County, which has one of the highest maternal deaths. The villages include Biressa, Wayu boro, Dende and Tawakal.

Experts have confirmed that the high-powered motorcycle ambulances can maneuver poor rural terrains, so it wouldn’t get stuck on mud if it rains, and it’s much lighter to push even if it gets stuck or develops mechanical problem.

Moto-ambulances are affordable to maintain. They consume very little fuel, making them suitable for impoverished populations. With fuel of 20 shillings it can take a woman for delivery in hospital located five kilometers away and back.

The bike ambulance carries a rider and a paramedic with a sidecar for carrying patients. St John Ambulance Communications Manager said the sidecar have been found to be less likely to be misused by diverting them for non-healthcare purposes.

As part of the initiative to boost maternal healthcare, St John is providing small business grants and loans to women groups in remote areas to enable them fend for their pre and post natal care necessities.