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Where's the ambulance when my baby and I need it?

To reduce infant and mother mortality rates, we should prioritize expanding access to emergency medical transportation in underserved areas.

Photo of Kevin Gibbons
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One of the most difficult things about living in remote areas is the lack of access to emergency medical care and transportation when it's needed. It's one contributing factor to higher rates of infant and mother mortality in remote areas with high rates of poverty. Ambulances can be found in health facilities some distance away, but those ambulances are often unavailable, unaffordable, or in disrepair.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

What are some methods of emergency medical transportation that are appropriate in the areas where you live and work?

How does this research relate to our use cases and personas?

Accessible emergency transportation could help the under-resourced mom to give birth in a health facility and find transportation to specialized care in the case of complications.

Tell us about yourself:

I am the Executive Director of Health Access Connect, an NGO that links Ugandans in remote areas with healthcare. We've recently been considering what to do about the lack of emergency transportation.

Are you currently an employee of Sutter Health or UCB Pharmaceuticals?

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Kevin Gibbons  Welcome to the OpenIDEO Community!

We are excited to have an individual with your expertise in the challenge! Thank you for sharing your insights and provocations around emergency transportation. It's definitely an interesting topic we would love to dive further into. I'm curious to know more about what the current new life journey is for pregnant women to give birth in the community your NGO is serving?

Where do women typically have their babies? Who facilitates that process?

Looking forward to learning more and thank you for joining our community and the challenge!

Photo of Kevin Gibbons

Lauren, thank you for asking!

Most women (~73%) in Uganda give birth in a health facility, but I suspect that average is lower in remote communities. One reason for that improved rate is because women are allowed to stay at a government health facility for free starting a few weeks before their due date.

However, there are some other challenges that we have seen in the communities where we work and heard reports about:
# Many pregnant mothers do not receive the recommended 4 visits to visit a health workers before giving birth.
# Pregnant mothers who don't know their due dates may not get to the health facility in time.
# Pregnant mothers (just like all people living in remote areas) usually take a motorcycle taxi to get to the health facility, so if someone is having a birth with complications, their only option is to ride on the back of a motorcycle for 30 minutes or over an hour.
# From most places in Uganda, there is often an ambulance in a town nearby, but residents tell us that they are often not available because they are too expensive, in disrepair, out of service because the driver is not around, or similar issues.

The story that is close to my heart about this problem is about a friend/partner of ours Annette who lives in a remote village. She's a leader in her community and is a Village Health Team member, which means she's a resource for health information. She was in labor and was in a rural health facility. However, there were complications, and she needed to be taken to a hospital or another facility to receive specialized care. At the time she had the money and support to hire a ambulance or car to take her to a hospital, but there wasn't one available. The baby ended up dying. This is the baby of someone who understands the health system better than most of her peers. Since then we've been wondering, "How can we help to make emergency transportation available to someone like Annette?"

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