MERCK for Mothers

An Emergency Transport Scheme 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.

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.

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.