- Title: Free ambulance service saves mothers and babies during lockdown
- Date: 8th July 2020
- Summary: NAIROBI, KENYA (JUNE 11, 2020) (REUTERS) TIMELAPSE OF NAIROBI TRAFFIC AT DUSK TIMELAPSE OF FULL MOON CITY CLOCK SHOWING 9 PM SIGNALING BEGINNING OF CURFEW EMPTY NAIROBI STREET EXTERIOR OF RESCUE.CO 24/7 EMERGENCY DISPATCH CALL CENTRE CALL CENTRE OPERATOR FRASER KIRUI ANSWERING RINGING PHONE KIRUI SPEAKING ON PHONE AS HER COLLEAGUE RICHARD NAMU WORKS ON HIS COMPUTER WIDE PAN OF CALL CENTER (SOUNDBITE) (English) EMERGENCY RESPONSE OPERATOR, FRASER KIRUI, SAYING: "Basically what we do on a day to day basis is receive calls, triage over the phone and then send the closest ambulance to the patient. Closest appropriate ambulance to that patient, yeah." (SOUNDBITE) (English) EMERGENCY RESPONSE OPERATOR, RICHARD NAMU, SAYING: "Maternity related cases has gone higher, on average we are doing two call per night. So far we have done 88 calls, maternity related cases." NAIROBI, KENYA (JUNE 19, 2020) (REUTERS) AMBULANCE LIGHTS A PREGNANT WOMAN BEING ESCORTED INTO THE AMBULANCE VARIOUS OF A MEDIC TENDING TO THE WOMAN VARIOUS OF AMBULANCE ON THE ROAD PAPER IN AMBULANCE WINDSHIELD WRITTEN 'I STAYED AT WORK FOR YOU, YOU STAY AT HOME FOR US' VARIOUS OF WOMAN WALKING OUT OF HOSPITAL AND WALKING INTO HOSPITAL (SOUNDBITE) (English) EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM, FRASER KIRUI, SAYING: "It is not a really a new problem, it has been there since before. But then before patients would use their own means that means their own car, they'd get a neighbour to drop them, they'd get a taxi, a motorbike taxi. But then with the curfew that runs from 9-4am right now, it becomes quite difficult because they cannot use their own cars, they cannot get a motorbike taxi outside their house to take them to a facility, their neighbours are not able to take them so it becomes really challenging for mothers to get to facilities." (SOUNDBITE) (English) EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM, RICHARD NAMU, SAYING: "Transport is one of the major factors, so we've had like I said earlier 15 deaths a day because of lack of transport. So with this COVID again it has increased that rate." NAIROBI, KENYA (JUNE 30, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF WHEELS FOR LIFE BENEFICIARIES DANIEL MURIRI AND HIS WIFE CHRISTINE WANJIRU AT THEIR HOME WITH THEIR BABY VARIOUS OF WANJIRU HOLDING HER BABY AND SMILING WANJIRU AND MURIRI SEATED DURING INTERVIEW (SOUNDBITE) (English) WHEELS FOR LIFE BENEFICIARY, DANIEL MURIRI, SAYING: "When the water broke she told me, I was very confused, I did not know what to take, I did not know how we are going to make it to the hospital, I did not know how much time we have. But I called 1196, I spoke to a doctor, then the doctor suggested that that they send an ambulance." (SOUNDBITE) (English) WHEELS FOR LIFE BENEFICIARY, CHRISTINE WANJIRU, SAYING: "I did not expect that, it was so fast. First of all the water broke and the baby had less time, I was so happy." VARIOUS MURIRI AND WANJIRU WITH THEIR BABY NAIROBI, KENYA (JUNE 11, 2020)(REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE)(English) EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM, RICHARD NAMU, SAYING: "Some of the crews have been named after, depending with how you delivered your services. Yes, I have two who were named after me, of course the first name. It was a consensus, I had to make sure that both the parents are in agreement because I do not want the mother to name the baby and then the father is on me." WIDE OF CALL CENTER WITH SCREEN SHOWING RESPONSE OPERATORS VARIOUS OF CALL CENTER SPLIT SCREEN
- Embargoed: 22nd July 2020 14:57
- Keywords: COVID-19 Curfew lockdown
- Location: NAIROBI, KENYA
- City: NAIROBI, KENYA
- Country: Kenya
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA001CLY7ION
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: It is after dark in Nairobi, Kenya and like many African nations, has no public ambulance services. Disruptions to health systems caused by COVID-19 could result in an additional 1.1 million additional child deaths according to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers in the United States.
Police had already beaten a motorbike driver to death after he transported a woman in labour to hospital after curfew in Kenya.
So doctors and paramedics started Wheels for Life, a free ambulance service and a lifeline for mothers in labour at night.
"It is not a really a new problem, it has been there since before. But then before, patients would use their own means that means their own car. But then with the curfew that runs from 9-4am right now, it becomes quite difficult because they cannot use their own cars, they cannot get a motorbike taxi outside their house to take them to a facility, their neighbours are not able to take them so it becomes really challenging for mothers to get to facilities," explained Fraser Kirui, a member of the emergency response team.
The program has received more than 5,000 calls and delivered around 600 babies. Patients call '1196.' A worker at a call center checks if it is an emergency.
If not, they send a taxi with an overnight movement pass.
If it is, the call goes to Rescue.co, a subscription-based Uber service for ambulances that runs a dispatch center.
One such call was from Christine Wanjiru, whose waters broke at midnight. She was stunned when an ambulance appeared within five minutes, "I didn't expect that. I was so happy," Wanjiru said.
Wheels for Life is free. Public partners and corporate donors are covering costs.
Now the emergency team hopes the service can become permanent. A permanent ambulance service could save more lives.
About 362 Kenyan women per 100,000 die in childbirth even when there is no pandemic, according to the health ministry.
(Ayenat Mersie, Jackson Njehia)
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