UK-based telecom giant Vodafone Group announced yesterday the launch of a pioneering new toll-free emergency line for ambulance taxi service in Tanzania.
The service will be provided by Vodafone Foundation - alongside its NGO partners Pathfinder International and Touch Foundation and the US Agency for International Development or USAID.
The first-of-its-kind service was launched in districts where maternal and infant mortality rates are believed to be among highest in the world.
The emergency line could help save around 225 lives of women and babies a month and will see a network of 100 taxi drivers responding to emergency calls, taking pregnant women on what is often a three-hour journey to reach the nearest hospital.
Once women arrive at hospital, the emergency taxi drivers are paid using Vodafone's mobile payment service M-Pesa.
The company noted that a trial of the taxi service late last year in an area of Sengerema saved the lives of 323 women and babies. "Our maternal health programme is another example of the transformative power of technology.
Since 2010, our 'text to treatment' programme has benefitted more than 3,000 women living with debilitating maternal condition obstetric fistula.
"Now, this pioneering new service will provide a much-needed lifeline for thousands of high-risk pregnant women in Tanzania without access to emergency healthcare," said Vodafone Foundation Director Andrew Dunnett in a statement.
The emergency line could help save around 225 women and babies' lives a month, and will see a network of 100 taxi drivers responding to emergency calls, taking pregnant women on what is often a three-hour journey to reach the nearest hospital.