July 25, 2017

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

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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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