If age is just a mere number as is widely touted, then the saying finds more meaning in the life of Sharon Nakanjako.At 15, Nakanjako looks twice her age. Beneath her worn out looks, though, is a teen struggling to wade through her gruelling past and focus on the future. Last year, she conceived un
By Daniel Edyegu
If age is just a mere number as is widely touted, then the saying finds more meaning in the life of Sharon Nakanjako.
At 15, Nakanjako looks twice her age. Beneath her worn out looks, though, is a teen struggling to wade through her gruelling past and focus on the future. Last year, she conceived under the most dreadful circumstances — rape.
“I was tilling the garden in the morning when a man attacked me,” Nakanjako says, without delving into details.
A teen with narrow hips, it was easily predictable that delivery would be difficult. And the fact that her father’s home in Aisa parish, Namanyonyi sub-county, Mbale district, is barely accessible through motorised transport, compounded her problem.
“I almost died during delivery. When I went into labour last November, I went into coma as I tried to push. Luckily, a resident of the village voluntary health team called the driver of the eRanger motorbike ambulance, which rushed me to Mbale Hospital. I delivered by Caesarean section,” Nakanjako narrates.
The eRanger motorbike ambulances, conceived by Welsh paramedics and students at the University of Glamorgan while on a visit to Mbale, have boosted maternal health in Mbale, Manafwa and Bududa districts.
The Partnership Overseas Networking Trust, an NGO operating in Bugisu region, purchased seven bikes, starting with two in December 2010. The organisation has partnered with local governments to introduce the service to the communities.
The bikes, each with a mobile stretcher attached to the left flank,come complete with two tarpaulins; one for carrying the patient and another for covering the bike. It also has a mattress and a pump for its tyres.
In Mbale, the ambulances serve Busiu, Wanale and Namanyonyi sub-counties, while in Manafwa, the bikes are in Bubulo and Bugobero sub-counties. In Bududa, the bikes are in Bushika and Bushiyi sub-counties.
The initiative offers a snippet of what the Government ought to do in its efforts to ensure pregnant mothers in rural areas deliver in heath units, to minimise mortality.
Martin Muhiyi, who rides one of the bikes, says they were strategically placed in hard-to-reach areas to ease movement of expectant mothers and sick children to health centres. “Being a mountainous region, there are areas which are completely inaccessible by vehicles, but these bikes can get there. Initially, people were afraid to use the bikes, referring to them as coffins. But these days, we get calls to render the service till late into the night,” Muhiyi explains.
The ambulances operate 24 hours and are free. To improve efficiency, the riders work with traditional referral birth attendants and the voluntary health teams to identify people in need of the services.
“We have telephone contacts of all birth attendants and health volunteers. Before we rush to the patient, we ask to speak to the birth attendant in that area. This is done to safeguard the bikes from thieves,” Muhiyi says.
Bike ambulances give Mbale expectant mothers a ride to life