One of the most important ways to reduce maternal mortality is to reduce the delays that prevent women in dangerous labour getting the urgent help they and their babies need.
In these cases a few minutes, and certainly a few hours of waiting for professional help can mean the difference between life and death. Good examples are uterine rupture in the mother meaning the baby is under immediate threat of oxygen deprivation, or shoulder dystocia which requires doctors to act quickly to dislodge the baby to avoid a hypoxic injury.
The Uhuru X is a vehicle designed especially to reduce delays in getting women and babies in cases such as these to district hospitals.
The word Uhuru means freedom in Swahili, and the vehicle itself is a converted Polaris all-terrain vehicle adapted specifically for patient transfer from rural villages. It can travel on the most rugged of terrain and can easily access villages which are cut off from cars and even 4×4 vehicles.
Regular maintenance services are part of the package that all vehicles managed by Riders for Health benefit from. With a robust maintenance schedule, Uhuru drivers can be confident that their life-saving vehicles will always be roadworthy and ready to go.
In an another attempt to reduce delays Riders for Health provides community birth companions, the professionals tasked with ensuring that woman have experienced and caring support up to birth and beyond with mobile phones. Also provided by Riders to Uhuru drivers and other health officers, this means that in the case of a dangerous labour, health care can be arranged immediately without relying on individuals or health professionals having access to personal mobile phones which in rural Africa is not a certainty.
To show the success of the vehicle, in 2021, the Uhuru carried out 121 referrals of pregnant women to access maternal services across The Gambia.
See a film of the Uhuru in action from GRTS TV (Gambian Radio and Television Service).