When 35-year-old Carol Mutheu went into labour on a Saturday night in Lamu Island’s Kashmir area, she knew it was going to be a difficult delivery. She needed to get to King Fahd hospital on the far end of the island and the only few vehicles available are from the fleet of the County Commissioner.
Most expectant mothers are transported by donkey carts unless one is lucky to get one of the two Tuk-Tuk ambulances ran by an NGO. Mustering all her energy, Mutheu called the Al Khair Foundation, which manages the Tuk-Tuk and two boat ambulances.
Lamu Island, despite being one of the world’s Unesco heritage sites, has one of the region’s worst maternal health care records in the country.
“The Tuk Tuk ambulance has really been a blessing to mothers who previously had to make do with being ferried on donkey carts, which are not only uncomfortable, but also cause birth complications,” said Dr Crispin Ladu, King Fahd hospital medical superintendent. He said the ambulances are making a major impact in saving lives, in an area where maternal mortality rate is high.
“The ambulances coupled with free maternity care introduced by the government has helped reduce maternal and infant mortality rate greatly. More women are now choosing to give birth in the hospital,” Esther Osewe, the hospital maternity matron.
The Tuk Tuk service also touches the islands of Faza, Ndau from where the boat ambulances ferry mothers to the island where the three-wheelers take over.
One such beneficiary of the boat ambulance service is Aisha Hawa, 27, a Faza resident who gave birth recently after braving a one-hour boat sail to the island from where the Tuk-Tuk took her to hospital.
The same can be said of Hannah Muthoni, 37, a mother of six who was easily ferried from Manda Island recently, thanks to the boat ambulance that is always on call. -KNA