Vodafone Foundation Expands m-mama Emergency Transport System to Improve Maternal and Newborn Health in Kenya

Vodafone Foundation Expands m-mama Emergency Transport System to Improve Maternal and Newborn Health in Kenya

(IN BRIEF) Vodafone Foundation has expanded the m-mama maternal and newborn emergency transport system to Kenya with a $14 million investment. The collaborative effort between Vodafone Foundation, the Kenyan Government, USAID, Safaricom, and M-Pesa Foundation aims to improve maternal and newborn health in the country. The m-mama system provides a toll-free number and 24/7 call center to connect women with fast and safe transportation to quality healthcare facilities during pregnancy, labor, or newborn emergencies. The initiative addresses the lack of timely referrals and patient transport in Kenya, contributing to the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality rates. Following its success in Tanzania and Lesotho, the expansion of m-mama demonstrates Vodafone Foundation’s commitment to leveraging technology to make a positive impact on communities and healthcare systems across Africa.

(PRESS RELEASE)  BERKSHIRE, 22-Jun-2023 — /EuropaWire/ —  Vodafone (LON: VOD), a British multinational leader in technology communications, announces that Vodafone Foundation is proud to expand its life-saving m-mama maternal and newborn emergency transport system to Kenya. In collaboration with the Kenyan Government, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Safaricom, and M-Pesa Foundation, Vodafone Foundation has invested US$14 million to launch this initiative.

The introduction of m-mama in Kenya aims to address the critical issue of maternal and newborn health. Despite 90% of pregnant women giving birth in healthcare facilities, approximately 6,000 maternal deaths occur annually due to pregnancy-related complications, resulting in a maternal mortality ratio of 355 deaths per 100,000 live births. Additionally, Kenya experiences 35,000 newborn deaths each year.

One of the challenges faced by pregnant women and newborns in distress is the lack of timely referrals and patient transport to appropriate healthcare facilities.

How does m-mama work?
m-mama is a specialized referral system for pregnancy, labor, or newborn emergencies. It offers a toll-free number and a 24/7 call center that connects women with fast and safe transportation to high-quality healthcare facilities.

The call center dispatches ambulances or trained community and taxi drivers equipped to handle obstetric emergencies. These drivers are identified through the m-mama mobile app and are promptly reimbursed upon safely reaching the hospital, with no cost to the women.

Expanding from Tanzania to Kenya
Originally launched in Tanzania’s Lake Zone, including the region of Shinyanga, in 2013, m-mama was initially focused on renovating maternity wards, constructing waiting homes, and training community healthcare workers. However, research by the Touch Foundation revealed that prioritizing emergency transportation was the most effective use of resources.

In rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, pregnant and new mothers face challenges accessing hospitals during emergencies. Before the introduction of m-mama in Tanzania, limited availability of ambulances resulted in just one ambulance for every ten emergency calls.

In 2014, Vodafone Foundation established the m-mama system, recruiting drivers and coordinating ambulances through a centralized dispatch center. The system found innovative ways to transport women to hospitals, including the use of horses and boats in villages with waterway access.

By 2020, the m-mama system covered the entire Shinyanga region. Recognizing its importance, President Samia Suluhu Hassan requested the nationwide implementation of m-mama, leading to the designation of the emergency line ‘115,’ equivalent to emergency numbers in other regions.

In 2019, m-mama expanded to Lesotho, a country with one of the highest maternal mortality rates globally. It achieved national scale in Lesotho in early 2023.

Building on its success, Vodafone Foundation and USAID agreed in 2022 to invest in expanding the m-mama program to other parts of Africa. The system is expected to be available nationwide in Tanzania and Lesotho by the end of this year and will cover 70% of Kenya.

Deborah’s Life-Saving Role with m-mama
Deborah, a dispatcher at Shinyanga Regional Referral Hospital in Tanzania, plays a vital role in the m-mama system. Answering calls on the toll-free number, she carefully listens to the health concerns of mothers and their children, entering the information into the m-mama system. Deborah coordinates emergency transportation, staying in touch with drivers throughout the journey to ensure patients reach the hospital safely.

Learn more about Deborah’s inspiring work and how she contributes to the safety and health of mothers through m-mama in her remarkable story below.

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