The Government of Kenya, the U.S. Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Vodafone Foundation, Safaricom Plc, and M-PESA Foundation agreed to a new public-private partnership to bring the emergency transportation system m-mama to Kenya. Efficiently accessing transport in the case of obstetric emergencies can save the lives of mothers and newborns.
m-mama is an emergency referral system that swiftly transports pregnant women and newborns facing complications to appropriate healthcare facilities. A clinically trained dispatcher manages the referrals and confirms facility availability to ensure women and newborns in emergency situations can be promptly managed. The program also recruits, trains, and pays local community and taxi drivers to provide additional emergency transport options when ambulances are unavailable, ensuring greater availability of transport for patients. The service will be easily accessible through a free landline and mobile phone number.
Kenya has made significant progress towards improving maternal and child health, with most pregnant women (90 percent) delivering in health facilities. However, efforts need to be accelerated in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030. Currently about 6,000 women and 35,000 newborns still die annually from complications. One of the challenges is lack of timely referrals and transport for pregnant women and their newborns to reach facilities that can provide quality services without unnecessary delays. To reduce these deaths, the partners will work with the Government of Kenya and contribute $14 million to set up m-mama in Kenya. USAID announced today it would provide up to $5 million toward the initiative, and Vodafone Foundation and M-PESA Foundation announced an additional $9 million contribution.
This aligns to the government of Kenya’s priorities to deliver universal health coverage through primary healthcare and operationalize electronic community health information systems.
m-mama has been shown to contribute to a 38 percent decrease in the number of maternal deaths in pilot locations in Africa. Since it was created by Vodafone Foundation and USAID in 2013, m-mama has transported over 28,000 women and newborns and is conservatively estimated to have saved over 900 lives. The Government of Kenya is pioneering the m-mama approach to enhance maternal and newborn health.