Tanzania: Bodaboda Riders Land Role in War On Maternal, Child Deaths

Sengerema — In a bid to reduce maternal and child mortality rates in Tanzania, the Aga Khan Foundation has launched a special project involving bodaboda and Bajaj riders who would provide transport services for expectant mothers to hospitals and delivery centres.

This comes after it was established that pregnant women and infants die mostly due to delays in transporting them to health facilities. This happens mostly in rural areas where infrastructures are in bad shape.

Under the Impact Project, the Foundation - with support from the Canadian and Tanzanian governments - is already implementing a special training exercise for motorbike and Bajaj drivers on how best to care for and transport expectant mothers in rural areas.

The Impact Project community health coordinator, Ms Rester Boniface, told The Citizen in an exclusive interview that drivers involved in the programme are recognised by their local area authorities, as they sign special contracts with their Ward Officers to transport patients in their respective areas. "We aim at reaching about 740 bodaboda and Bajaj drivers, five from each ward; we've already reached 340," she said.

This is being implemented in areas with high transportation challenges in Sengerema, Buchosa, Ukerewe, Ilemela, Nyamagana and Magu in Mwanza Region.

The assistant district reproductive and child health coordinator with Sengerema District Council, Ms Blandina Hezron, said the plan would not only solve rural patients transportation problem; it would also reduce the number of deaths caused by patients' delays in accessing healthcare.

"Bodaboda and Bajaj drivers are familiar with community environment; this makes it easier to reach and transport patients to health centres instead of waiting for an ambulance from far-off urban centres," said Ms Hezron

Speaking to The Citizen in different interviews, Mr Vincent Mkingwa and Mr Renatus Mayala - who are among the bodaboda na Bajaj drivers in Sengerema engaged in the programme - said that, apart from serving the community, the plan would also increase their income.

"I have signed an agreement with the Nyatukala Ward Office to charge between Sh3,000 and Sh5,000 per trip from a patient's home to Nyatukala Health Centre," Mr Mkingwa said.

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