The cost of transport to get to medical facilities is often a barrier to women accessing medical health facilities when they need care.
In two districts of northern Tanzania, Sengerema and Shinyanga DC, an area the size of Wales, the population of over 1 million is being serviced by fewer than 10 ambulances. Many women do not survive pregnancy or lose their babies because there is no transportation to care. To help address this issue, the programme launched a 24/7 toll free maternal emergency hotline. The hotline can be called, the emergency identified and one of the 100 district taxi drivers dispatched, at no cost, to take the patient to the nearest facility for treatment. These ‘uber ambulance’ taxi drivers are paid for the journey via M-Pesa, Vodafone’s mobile money transfer system, once the woman arrives at the facility. Since the launch in July 2015 the hotline has received over 2,000 emergency calls, and ‘uber ambulance’ taxi drivers have transported over 1,800 women during emergency to a facility for care; 94% were paid for with M-Pesa; the district pays for the remaining 6%.
M-Pesa Text to Treatment
The programme also connects women suffering from obstetric fistula to free treatment. Research highlights that one of the reasons thousands of women live with post labour incontinence is due to the fact that they cannot afford the cost of transport to treatment Working with CCBRT, ‘Text to Treatment’ uses Vodafone M-Pesa to pay the travel costs for women to get from their communities to hospital for surgery. Since ‘Text to Treatment’ was implemented by CCBRT in 2009, the number of surgeries has increased by 377% from 168 to over 900 surgeries annually. In 2015, 920 surgeries were performed and 100% of those required for transport were referred via ‘Text to Treatment’.