The Wheels for Life project was started on the 28th April 2020 to respond to pregnancy- related emergencies at night during the curfew hours instructed by the Government of Kenya in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is currently a programme by a team of organizations volunteering to ensure pregnant women are able to call 1196 toll-free to talk to a doctor and if necessary, get free emergency transport to a suitable health facility for safe baby deliveries.
The 9pm to 5am curfew has created anxiety among pregnant women should labour ensue during these hours. The article - Expectant Women Experience Painful Pangs of Night Curfew - in The Standard newspaper on 7th April 2020 listed the woes of women across the country. Some either deliver at home or walk miles to the nearest health facility due to unavailability of public transport.
To prevent an increase in the deaths of pregnant women and babies, there is a need to provide access to hospitals for women in labour present with obstetric emergencies, not only at night-time but always. A survey by KNBS on social economic impact due to the Covid19 pandemic shows an overall increase of 51.7% in the cost of transport on the most frequent routes in Kenya. It also indicates that 32% of people use walking as the means of transport.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Kenya Obstetric guidelines encourage delivery in a healthcare facility for all pregnant women to significantly reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. The global target as per sustainable development goal 3 (SDG 3) aims at reducing maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births. In Kenya, the 2014 KDHS, recorded an estimate 362 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Can you partner with us? We are currently running this initiative on a voluntary basis and seek technical and financial support so that we can sustain the service and scale it. We are looking to avail safe transport convenient to support 3,000+ deliveries per month within Kenya. Currently, Wheels for Life is only available in Nairobi County. We can end preventable maternal deaths, but we can’t do it alone. Join us!