Salome was 7 months into her pregnancy when she felt severe, painful swelling in her bump. Thanks to a bicycle ambulance, she was rushed to hospital in time and gave birth to healthy triplets.
Every 2 minutes a mother dies in pregnancy, childbirth or shortly after birth. In Malawi, where Salome lives, 1 in 150 pregnancies ends in a mother dying. That’s a rate 77 times higher than in the UK.
Many of these women die from preventable or treatable diseases, like malaria or haemorrhage.
These deaths can be prevented, and lives can be saved.
The biggest problem for many pregnant women is getting them to their local health facility to get the support they need. These are often over 4 miles away or a 90-minute walk, often in intensely hot weather across uneven dirt roads.
The problem is worsened due to a lack of ambulances. Many areas might only have one, which is often unavailable or tending to another emergency.
Women’s health groups in Malawi have come together to find a solution to this problem. They came up with the idea of making a bicycle ambulance – a stretcher that can be attached to the back to transport someone quickly to hospital.
This was vital for Salome when she was in severe, crippling pain in her pregnancy. She was expecting triplets and feared for both her life and those of her unborn babies.
A community health worker immediately visited Salome. After examining her, she told the village chief to get the bicycle ambulance urgently.
Using this bicycle ambulance, Salome was rushed to hospital in less than 15 minutes.
This made a vital difference to Salome and the triplets. As soon as he was taken there, she was given an emergency caesarean section.
Salome and her triplets survived and are now safe, happy and healthy, with their community coming together to support them.
Women and Children First support people in some of the world’s poorest communities by setting up women’s health groups, where people come together to find solutions to their health problems, like the bicycle ambulances.
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To watch a video of the bicycle ambulances in action, see this story.