Improving Access to Care: Motorcycle Ambulances

One of the biggest obstacles facing those women who would otherwise choose to deliver their babies in health centers is lack of transportation. Most people do not own a car or a motorcycle, and a majority live greater than 5 km from a health center (an hour by foot). Can you imagine trying to walk an hour on foot when you were pregnant, and in labor?


While public transportation (a car taxi or large 4X4 ambulance from the district hospital) could be an option, patients are required to pay exorbitant amounts of money, sometimes up to 6 months income, for the fuel, not to mention that taxis come by rural areas only sporadically, if at all. This makes traditional transportation options largely inaccessible to rural women.


Likewise, during the rainy seasons, it becomes very hard to navigate the predominately dirt roads in normal vehicles. The roads washout, making it nearly impossible to safely operate small cars, much less traditional ambulances.


For these reasons, SAFE worked with local citizens and medical professionals to develop an innovative, cost-effective solution--a comprehensive motorcycle ambulance system. Volunteers from the community were trained in defensive driving and drive the ambulances; dispatch is handled through text messages; and patients pay a subsidized fee to contribute to the cost of gasoline.

The Need

72.7% of household deaths in the East Central Region experienced delays in accessing transport that directly contributed towards those deaths.