'Boda Boda’ Ambulance…Simple and lifesaving

Saturday 16 July 2016

By Bella Nyamamu

Godwin carrying an expectant mother to hospital34 year old Godwin Simiyu is a trained cyclist under the Save the Children GSK sponsored boda boda ambulance project. Godwin is literally a star among his community members - he operates within Bumula sub-county, ensuring that expectant mothers access health facilities whenever they need to.

Godwin is proud of the fact that he has helped to greatly reduce the number of babies delivered at home and ensured that mothers and children have access to quality health care services.

 “I am very happy with this project because it has really helped many mothers. Expectant mothers suffered a lot before this project; most of them could not deliver in the hospital. Transport to the hospital was expensive, and they also complained about the hospital environment. When Save the Children launched this project, Bumula sub county hospital was renovated and the maternity wing looked nice. Many good services came after the launch: the ‘boda boda’ ambulance which offers free transport to expectant mothers; delivery at the health facility is free of charge; the health workers are friendlier and the newborn baby gets a free clothe when leaving the hospital.”

Explaining how expectant mothers benefit from the transport service, Godwin says: “The cases of mothers experiencing difficulties during pregnancy and delivery have really reduced. We have an emergency service through the boda boda ambulance. If the expectant mother has any problem, feels unwell or experiences what we call ‘danger signs’, they call me and I pick them and take them to hospital right away. The doctor attends to them, and I take them back home free of charge.”

Sharing one of his most memorable experiences, Godwin says: “Just recently, I was called by an expectant mother her name is Phostine Wafula, in the middle of the night. When I arrived at her house, she was lying on the floor and there was a lot of water around her. She could not even move and for a moment, I thought she was dead! Together with the husband and other neighbours, we carried her to the boda boda and the birth companion held her as we drove to the hospital. The nurses received her and took her to the delivery room. Afterwards the nurses told me that delivery was complicated, and if I had not brought the mother to hospital on time, either the mother or child would have died. For sure I felt grateful that I had saved a Phostine’s life through this boda boda ambulance service.”

Phostine (right) with baby Mophat and the birth companion

“We called Godwin when I was in big problems: baby mophat was about to be born; I was in pain and had no strength to walk. The hospital is very far away, if it was not for the ambulance getting me to the hospital in time, I don’t think I would have survived the delivery. Godwin is a great person, I have asked him to come I cook for him chicken for saving my life and that of the baby but he is yet to come,” says Phostine

Project information:

The boda boda ambulance project was established in May 2015 under the GSK funded health signature programme in Bungoma. The project was launched after it was found that most women in the district were delivering at home because of the lack of transport.

The project aims to help expectant mothers to access health facilities. The contracted boda boda operator is paid by Save the Children, based on the number of clients he serves, thus making the service free for the expectant mothers.