Bayelsa State Boosts Riverine Healthcare with Six New UNICEF-Donated Ambulance Boats

17 April 2024
Ambulance boats

BAYELSA, Nigeria, 17 April 2024 - UNICEF has handed over six ambulance boats to the Bayelsa State Government to improve healthcare and emergency response services in riverine communities living in far flung areas. 

The ambulance boats, funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, are equipped with medical amenities, and staffed with healthcare personnel trained to provide swift and effective emergency medical assistance, transport patients including pregnant women in labour and newborns to medical facilities and facilitate immunization outreach programmes.

With nearly 100 out of every 1000 children not surviving to see their fifth birthday, infant mortality at 70 per 1000 births, 32 per cent of pregnant women not receiving antenatal care and only about 40 per cent babies delivered in health facilities in Bayelsa State, the ambulance boats are timely to improve survival rates for women and children.

“The provision of these ambulance boats represents a critical step towards ensuring that even the most remote communities have access to lifesaving healthcare services, said Ms. Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative.  “These boats will not only serve as a means of transportation for patients but also function as platforms for delivering essential healthcare interventions, such as immunizations, antenatal care, and health education, directly to those in need”.

“This development is proof of the power of partnership and we are pleased to be working with the Bayelsa State Government and Federal Government, and UNICEF to improve immunization and Primary Health Care for communities in hard to reach settings. At Gavi, we are constantly seeking new ways to support governments to further reach the unimmunized and with this sub-national investment being the first of its kind initiative,” said Jessica Crawford, the Gavi Senior Country Manager for Nigeria.

“We are deeply grateful for the donation of these six ambulance boats, which bring hope to our riverine communities. This initiative is an important step in our ongoing efforts to safeguard the lives of our mothers, children, and vulnerable populations across Bayelsa. These boats will not only ensure timely medical interventions but also fortify our resolve to provide equitable healthcare services, irrespective of geographical barriers. Together, we are navigating towards a brighter, healthier future for every citizen of Bayelsa State.” Said His Excellency Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, Deputy Governor, Bayelsa State.

This initiative builds on the priorities of the Federal Ministry of Health as expressed in the Nigeria Health Renewal Investment Initiative, to make the health system more equitable and efficient, reduce the number of children who have not received any vaccine, and improve immunization coverage. 

The delivery of the ambulance boats makes up part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2022 between the Bayelsa State Government, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Nigeria Governors Forum, GAVI, and UNICEF to improve routine immunization and primary healthcare systems and reduce loss of life, particularly among women and children.


Note to Editors:

The MoU has significantly strengthened primary healthcare service delivery in Bayelsa State by increasing the demand for healthcare services and bolstering its healthcare workforce through the recruitment of 527 skilled health workers, comprising nurses, midwives, and community health extension workers, addressing the chronic challenge of human resources for health.

The renovation of six primary healthcare centres, including improvements in health and WASH amenities, has enhanced access to healthcare services, particularly in remote and underserved communities. Through integrated outreaches and supportive supervisory visits, the state has reached thousands of children with essential primary healthcare services, including immunization, nutrition, and birth registration.

Photographs from the handover ceremony are available here and  here.

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