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29 November 2010 - Motor bike ambulances-New hope for pregnant mothers in Southern Sudan’s Western Equatoria state

A pregnant woman being carried on one of the motor bike ambulance
© UNICEF SUDAN/2010/Swangin
A pregnant woman being carried on one of the motor bike ambulance during the launch in Southern Sudan's western Equatoria state

Yambio, Southern Sudan - In an effort to curb the death of mothers during pregnancy or at child birth, UNICEF and the Western Equatoria state government in Southern Sudan today launched seven motor bike ambulances to reduce the delay in seeking life-saving services.

Receiving the ambulance at the Freedom Square in the state capital Yambio, the Governor of the State Joseph Bakosoro Bangasi said, “This is one big step for us to quickly respond to emergencies related to pregnancies and child illnesses. This is the best solution for our poor roads”.

The ambulance is an E-Ranger Motorbike fitted with a carrier at the side where the pregnant mother can comfortably sit, with space for a first aid box.

“This contribution of seven bikes will go a long way in averting the deaths of women and their un born babies”, said Dr. Yasmin Haque, the Director for the UNICEF Southern Sudan Area Programme.

“UNICEF is grateful to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for lending a hand in the fight against maternal and child deaths in Western Equatoria state. These motorbike ambulances will bridge the gap between homes and health centres and between health centres and help pregnant mothers access skilled birth attendance”, Dr. Haque added.

Like the rest of Southern Sudan where infrastructure remains poor, the roads in Western Equatoria are not an exception and hence the motorbike is a viable option to effectively enhance the referral system.

In an area where child and maternal deaths are all too common, the ambulance will be handy to reduce this tragedy.

Southern Sudan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. A woman in Sudan has a one in six chance of dying during the course of her lifetime from complications during pregnancy or childbirth.

In Western Equatoria, the ratio stands at a staggering 2,045 out of every 100,000 pregnant women.

Prolonged obstructed labour, ‎severe bleeding, infections, eclampsia and complications related to unsafe abortions are all ‎major causes of maternal deaths, with newborns often dying because of infection, low ‎birth weight and birth asphyxia.

In 2006, the Sudan Household Survey found that only 25 percent of the population had access to adequate health services as such, over 80% of pregnant women deliver at home under the supervision of Traditional Birth Attendants or village midwifes.

The situation is further compounded with the fact that only about 10% of the deliveries all over Southern Sudan, a region the size of Eastern Europe are attended to by skilled attendants.

Also, many girls in Southern Sudan become pregnant at a young age, and are particularly vulnerable should they develop complications.

Majority of maternal deaths occur at home or in primary health facilities and one of the contributing factors is poor referral system from home to health facilities and from primary health care facilities to secondary health care facilities.

It is against this background that GSK generously contributed through UNICEF to improve the referral of pregnant women and reduce maternal complications and deaths.

The motor bikes will be based at different health units and centres across the state and communities will be educated on how to call for its services.

Riders and mechanics have been trained in the last few days and will be responsible to transport cases of complications. Their telephone contacts will be widely shared to enable community members contact them directly as well.

For more information, please contact:
Swangin Bismarck, Communication officer UNICEF Southern Sudan Area programme, Juba
Mobile: +249 (0) 919 261 580, +256 (0) 477 103 390:



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