Connect with us
Header

Uganda Innovates

Heard about bike ambulances? They are reducing maternal mortality rates in rural Uganda

 

kakyo-grace_wide-e690900e9c0468b3464af7804ef49151d6668366-s800-c85

Bike ambulance driver Grace Kakyo transports a patient in northern Uganda. Photo Credit CA Bikes

Here is how a well executed fast and simple plan is managing to reverse the trends of maternal health care system in Uganda. From going to remote areas and helping pregnant women, the Bike Ambulances are improving lives of pregnant women in many villages in Uganda with high maternal mortality rates, leading to a healthier future.

Before 2015, health and community workers in hard to reach areas in Uganda lived in a dilemma. They had to trek to impenetrable villages trying to save expectant mothers lives. Most roads were not friendly to cars and they had one solution- carrying the pregnant women on their backs or on homemade stretchers. To cut the long story short, many did not make it to hospital. They died on the way.

Fast forward to 2015 and now, a light is beaming bright at the end of the maternal health care system tunnel in Uganda. Bike ambulances are the reason. The reason why many pregnant women in rural Uganda are now singing to the glory of a simple, fast and cost effective way they are reached in, in remote areas.

Bike ambulances are unstoppable. On the dusty and muddy roads in remote areas whether Uganda or in any other low developing country, two wheels are better (and reliable) than four. Where a vehicle ambulance may take two hours to reach, a bike ambulance can take thirty minutes.

In some areas, you find that an expectant mother has to travel over 30 kilometers to reach a health center where they have to deliver and out of say 70% of expectant mothers who go for antenatal care I, only 20% go back to deliver meaning there are so many who remain back home and  delivery is done by Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) which number you can’t tell and that’s why bike ambulances are reversing this trend vigorously.

The bike ambulances idea is a simple one. They are two-wheeled ambulance trailers that can be easily connected to virtually any bicycle or motorcycle. When a patient needs to be moved, the Village Ambulances offer a safe alternative to the precarious boda-boda (motorcycle) ride that would traditionally be used to transport many Ugandans, or worse, being left at home to suffer rather than seeking the help the patient needs.

stream_img

The motorbikes have gone to over 10,000 callouts in four years. Photo credit: ITV

They are here to reverse trends indeed. According to the 2011 Uganda Demographic Health Survey, Uganda’s maternal mortality rate was found to be 438 per 100,000 live births.  

On the other hand, the MDG 2014 report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa together with the African Union, African Development Bank Group and the United Nations Development Programme on assessing progress in Africa toward the MDGs, to date 95% of Ugandan women receive antenatal care from a skilled provider at least once, 57% deliver babies in a health facility under the supervision of a skilled provider. Furthermore, 33% of the mothers received a postnatal checkup within two days of birth.

The new emerging statistics by the United Nations Economic Commission only shows one thing, that there are positive strides in achieving zero maternal deaths which directly and indirectly, can be attributed to bike ambulances.

This innovative idea however, was invented by Chris Ategeka, a graduate of Engineering from the University of California who returned back to Uganda in 2013 to help contribute to the reduction of Maternal death in Uganda and founded Rides For Lives.

Ategeka founded Rides For Lives, a nonprofit that invests in training local healthcare professionals so as to create a sustainable workforce and manufacture locally sourced medical vehicles with the mission of improving medical access and economic opportunities to those that are the most vulnerable.

In an interview with NPR, Ategeka and Ride For Lives stated that they have managed to support the fabrication of the bike ambulances  at centralized workshops in local villages which has led to the distribution of more than 1,000 bikes and bike ambulances throughout Uganda.

Only 100 bike ambulances can transport about 10,000 expectant mothers a month. Put another way, this is 100 lives saved every year after deploying just one of their ambulances to a district each year. With over 200 Village Ambulances distributed in over 23 districts across Uganda it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that this equates to over 5,000 lives saved every year thanks to their innovation.

bodambulance

Bike ambulances are loved because they are fast, affordable and can reach remote areas. Photo credit: Kissito Health

 

However, the question remains, how are young mothers getting access to these bike ambulances and how can we have more of these?

Many young mothers continue not having access to antenatal care services in different parts of the country. Still, a big number of them do not have information about the existence of bike ambulances to help significantly reverse this trend.

This is where district leaders and civil society must come in to advocate for increased funding and awareness of the innovative idea. This idea, can be transformed then into greater heights and before we know it, it will be a major turning point in the history of maternal mortality rates in Uganda.

Simon Otiga, The Vice Chairperson of Soroti District while at the launch of the ambulances in the district on January 27, 2015, urged the beneficiaries to use them so as to boast the maternal health care system of the district and reduce on the maternal deaths.

The Speaker of the ninth Parliament Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga while launching the ambulances last year at parliament, encouraged MPs to advocate for more bike ambulances to be distributed to all villages in Uganda so as to reduce on the maternal mortality rates.

Initiatives like these and others being implemented players in the health sector like the Voices For Health partners for example FOWODEReproductive Health Uganda, Reach A Hand, Uganda and UHMG to mention but a few, could help in saving lives of many young mothers all over the country who continue to die because of failing to get access to fast, cost effective and reliable services. That is when we will achieve a big step towards reducing maternal deaths in Uganda.

10369861_852129101486871_313261606135586975_n

 

Comments

comments

Uganda Innovates

Makanika Dot Com is looking to transform the way motorists access service providers in Uganda

Anyone who owns a car in Uganda will tell you that finding a good mechanic that is trust worthy and won’t steal your car parts when you leave your car overnight is a relief.  Makanika Dot Com  is  looking to transform the way motorists access service providers especially garages, as well the way providers get clients .

Makanika dot com collected data on worthy garages around two of the country’s cities (Kampala and Entebbe) to build the mobile application. The firm has built a data base of garages that motorists can access, and also buy car accessories like alarms, radios, lights. when in need through an app.

“When a motorist is stranded, they go into the app and send a repair request to the nearest garage. The garage, which has a dedicated application is notified about a stranded customer, they get in touch, solve their problem and get paid.” Michael Richard Katagaya the co- founder says.

Makanika which is also means mechanic is not only offering fast, reliable, convenient and secure way of sourcing car repair and accessories, but is also offering mechanics an opportunity to make more income, and transforming garages into stronger businesses through training and access to opportunities. The website and mobile app is now live.

Although the idea was conceived in 2012 with fruitless attempts to take off, it only became formal, with the incorporation of the company, in 2015. Since inception, they have grown their network of garages from zero to about 200 (several hundreds of mechanics), spread across Kampala, Entebbe, and a pilot site in Mbale.

 “We secured support from a tech hub – Hive Colab, we have worked with mentors to refine our idea.” Michael said.

What drives their passion is that they believe in an economy with high unemployment, growing initiatives that are looking to transform the informal (Small and Medium Enterprises – SMEs) and service sector work, is very critical.

Uganda’s Youth Unemployment Rate is 80%. Many young people are employed in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) including garages. Most of these businesses are quite informal and find it hard to benefit from the growing potential of technology. For example most garages have their mechanics sit and wait for clients (motorists) to come to them. At the same time, their clients are looking for a nearest, good garage. This is a disconnect that could be solved by technology so that mechanics get more jobs to do and motorists save time.

In the recent years, Uganda has experienced a rapid growth in the automobile market, with automobile population more than doubling in the last decade. Between 2012 and 2013 there was a 38.7 percent increase in newly registered vehicles from 96,598 in 2012 to 133,945 in 2013.

This boom comes with an increasing demand for automobile services including repairs, services, car enhancements like sound and security. It is arguably true that the number of such providers has tremendously grown, finding a reliable one maybe hard as people keep complaining about dealing with crooks. Also, in case of emergency like a car breaking down on a long road trip or in the middle of the night, with no access to one’s regular provider e.g. mechanic, they may have no starting point.

It is such challenges that we intend to solve. These services will be hinged on the increased number of telecom and internet users. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) indicates that last year, Uganda’s telecom subscribers hit 19,506,5502  in 2014, and that the total number of internet subscribers increased by 33.6 percent from 2,692,705 in 2012 to 3,625,559 in 2013. Obviously, these figures have tremendously increased and this will provide an opportunity for this venture.

Makanika Dot Com has changed the lives of the clients that use this service.

During the pilot phase for the mobile application we had between 50 and 70 active users. These are people to whom we have delivered reliable automobile garages, especially in emergencies. We have about 200 garages (over 2000 mechanics on our network) – although not all of them are on our mobile application.

These numbers both of garages and users are growing very fast as we get reviews and intensify marketing. And so far. Feedback from both clients and the mechanics we work with; we are making a difference. For example, a good number of garages are assured of work, almost on daily basis – this builds trust in their work as a source of employment.” Katagaya Said

As of now, they have not encountered any major challenges in their operations, save for the need for funding to scale fast, now that our concept is proved, appreciated by both clients and garages/mechanics.

“In five years, we will have broken even and extended our services across East Africa.” Michael Katagaya Says.

Like this story or have something to share? Write to us: info@thisisuganda.org, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Uganda Innovates

Here’s What You Need to Know About The Upcoming Uganda Public Health Youth Symposium

Uganda is set to host the first ever Public Health Youth Symposium that shall bring together various health experts with majors in social economic development, health policy, innovation, service delivery and advocacy to mention but a few. There will also be participants from social-political movements, business start-ups, social enterprises, civil society, international organizations and public institutions from Uganda and across the world.

The Public Health Youth Symposium (PHYS) is an avenue for the Ugandan public health community and professionals to communicate connect and collaborate on the latest public health efforts and findings. It will be a gathering of public health practitioners and multiple partners from government, academia and private organizations that share a common interest and dedication in protecting, preventing and promoting the health of the nation.

Follow updates here or use this hashtag  #PHYS2017 on social media.

 

The Expectations from the Symposium in Uganda

The Symposium seeks to turn young people into advocates, activists, champions and change agents by empowering them with information and skills on Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Management, Human Rights, Project Planning and Management, Evidence Based Advocacy, Communication, Social Entrepreneurship and Critical thinking using a problem-solving and learning environment. In addition to the above, they will also gain leadership skills, networking skills, analytical skills, interpersonal skills and team work skills.

 

It is aimed at connecting youth to share experiences and learn from each other on the selected themes, discuss challenges they face and plan way forward to address them. It will bring youth in touch with their peers, researchers, entrepreneurs, influential speakers and development partners.

The theme for this year’s symposium is “Public Health: A Driver to Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3”.

Objectives

  1. Create a national platform for young peoples’ discussions and understanding of how public health issues hinder social economic development of Uganda.
  2. To understand the role of public health in achieving National agendas and SDGs in Uganda.
  3. Create a platform where young public health innovators in public health showcase their work to various stakeholders and promote a multidisciplinary approach in health innovation.
  4. Create visibility for young people’s decision making ability on public health at (community and national level) the Ministry of Health level in Uganda.

 

Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU) is a registered not for profit youth led and youth serving organization comprised of young people working on issues of sexual and reproductive health and HIV awareness using health promotion, youth empowerment, social entrepreneurship and ICT for Health.

Registration

The one day symposium will he held on 9th November, 2017 at Hotel Africana. Click here to apply.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis up to the deadline of 30th October, 2017 hence you are encouraged to apply as earlier as possible. Should you need to get in touch with the organizers, write to us at info@phauganda.org

Connect with us through InstagramFacebook , Vimeo , website and Twitter

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Uganda Innovates

These innovators have created an app that addresses the challenge of drug stock outs in public health facilities

Health centres in Uganda face a serious shortage of drugs, many of them essential drugs, and this has always continuously caused a deep concern amongst citizens and health workers, and development partners alike.

These challenges could be attributed to the shortages in budget allocations by the Ministry of Health, or lack of clear monitoring of drugs distribution in health centres spread out across the country, among other reasons.

For example, Daily Monitor quoted a June 2015 report by the Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit of the Finance ministry that paints a grim picture of public health facilities. The report shows that for a whole year, more than 90 per cent of public health facilities reported non-supply of ordered medical items, including drugs and stationary. Close to three years later, the perennial problem of drug shortage has not been resolved.

DrugDash a Ugandan startup is trying to solve this problem.

DrugDash is a decision support system that is enabling health centers and drug distribution players capture data on drug supplies and consumption so as to better understand consumption trends through easy to understand visualisation tools that support accurate decision making.

“The application has two ends. It has a mobile end and web app. The information is fed from the mobile application on devices like tablets or simple Android mobile phones at the health centres where stock is taken, issues are recorded, and monitoring of the stock happens at the district Health Office where the web application sits.” Solomon Kahuma, the Software Developer DrugDash explains.

The data on medicine stock levels are viewed on a web application in simple graphs and other ways which are easier for responsible personnel to interpret and make informed decisions.

“We believe that more lives can be saved if the stocking of drugs in Government districts can be optimized. We must leverage technology to enhance decision making and ease coordination between the district health centers and the central government medical stores.” Joanitah N Nalubega the Project Finance Officer explains.

Solomon from DrugDash explaining how the application works to health officials. (Photo credit: DrugDash)

Therefore, DrugDash seeks to solve the problem of poor decision making in drug ordering at health facilities due to under utilisation of data collected and stored in paper forms, leading to poor stocking of needed  within a community.

This was witnessed when the solution was deployed to ten (10) health facilities in Bukedea (Eastern Uganda) with support from the UpAccelerate initiative which enabled DrugDash to receive seed funding to develop and test out their solution in Bukedea District in Eastern Uganda.

Receiving the $10,000 seed funding from UNFPA’s UpAccelerate program. (photo credit: DrugDash)

“The current process has been a challenge because it is not easy to know which item is missing in facility X or which item is over stocked in Facility B but with DrugDash, this makes it easy for you to track the supplies.” George Akol the Medicines & Store Manager Bukedea District noted.

The mobile application is very easy to use because even with power shortages that render desktop applications in these facilities ineffective, the mobile devices can be charged and used anywhere.

In the end, DrugDash will save more lives by enabling better informed decision making and smooth coordination amongst the health centers that give people access to healthcare and the central drug stores.

Like this story? Or have something to share? Write to us: info@thisisuganda.org, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Most Popular

Close

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!