July 25, 2017

How an ‘Uber for pregnant women’ is saving lives in Tanzania



UBER Logo on black background
Image Courtesy of UBER

Felista Richard holds her newborn baby in Sengerema, Tanzania. When 28-year-old Consolata went into labor in rural Sengerema, Tanzania, it was by no means picture-perfect. She was extremely fatigued, and soon started experiencing intense pain.

"I was in bad shape," she said. "I couldn’t do anything because I was tired."

Without knowing exactly what was wrong, she knew she needed to get to a clinic immediately — for her baby’s health and her own. But Consolata’s district, with a population of 500,000 people, has only three ambulances. Getting to a doctor in time seemed impossible.

So she took out her mobile phone and dialed a special hotline number to get an "ambulance taxi" — a revolutionary aspect of the Vodafone Foundation’s maternal health program in Tanzania’s rural Lake Zone. Health workers connect pregnant women in emergencies to a local network of vetted taxi drivers, who are paid via the popular mobile money system M-Pesa to pick them up and get them to clinics, fast. "I thought my baby and I were going to die." One of these cars brought Consolata to her nearest clinic, where she gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Kurwa. But her doctors examined her and found […]

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