In Tanzania, over 24 women die in pregnancy and labour every day through preventable causes. 90% of Tanzanians live in rural villages so one of the major contributors to this problem is serious lack of reliable, available transport to bring these mamas from their homes to the hospital for a safe birth. In addition, in most parts of the country, there is no publically available emergency transportation, meaning that if you don't have the money to pay for the trip or can't find any transport available (very common in rural areas), the situation is very tough indeed.
Last year, Pikilily was invited to help with this issue. The District Medical Officer in Sengerema, our neighbouring district, told us that the hospital owned four eRanger motorcycle ambulances, but due to a lack of spare parts and proper maintenance, they were broken down despite having only ever covered around 1000kms each. The DMO asked us to help us get these units back up and running, which we were happy to help with on the condition that we could ensure sustainability by also training up women as dedicated riders and maintenance experts in these units.
For the last few months, we have been busily refurbishing the first two bikes and training five women in all the essential skills they would need to operate them. It has been so exciting seeing this progress! We are now at the point of discussing with another organisation who have almost finished constructing a brand new health centre in Kamanga, situated in Sengerema district, about the possibilities of basing our motorcycle ambulances there. This would allow us to work with them in serving the local community, whose access to healthcare is otherwise very scarce, and ensuring that no mother or emergency case gets left behind.
More details to follow, but suffice to say, we are excited to be making a start on this work, not least because there are around 400 of these excellent eRanger motorcycles scattered across the country which, to our understanding, are largely out of service - usually due to a lack of spare parts and dedicated training - but which could be making a huge contribution to their communities.
Our ultimate mission is to bring all 400 of these motorcycle ambulances back into service and train up women as their dedicated riders.