Transportation of patients to health facilities is vital to healthcare delivery in every country.
Timely transportation of patients in dire need of healthcare to health facilities is a necessity. However, transportation of patients in critical conditions to health facilities, from mostly remote areas in Ghana is still inadequate.
Over the years, government’s commitment through the National Ambulance Service and efforts of mostly mission health facilities operating in remote areas of the country as well as the work of some NGOs to provide quick means of transportation of patients to health facilities is commendable but which still needs more work to close the transportation gap of patients in need of healthcare in the rural areas to health facilities.
The presentation of 13 improvised tricycle ambulances by MAZA to help improve healthcare delivery in the Chereponi District of the Northern Region has come as an answer to the yawning gap of providing patients with fast, timely and reliable transportation to health facilities.
*One of the 13 tricycle ambulance at the launch.
Access to Urgent Health Care
In most rural areas of Ghana, studies indicate that sick people trying to urgently get to hospitals or health facilities, face obstacles such as long distances of about 30 kilometres or more that takes over four hours to cross. Some of these routes and paths, which are impassable roads, with few motorized vehicles and unreliable transportation service, come at a high price.
Often time, the lack of money to pay for appropriate scares transportation, further compounds the conditions of the patient and delays the time by which they get to the health facilities.
According to health experts the phenomenon is one of the most crucial root causes of the disparity of urban-rural premature deaths in Ghana, especially for the most vulnerable members of the population including pregnant women and infants.
Thus MAZA’s initiative, which seeks to reduce the incidence of such preventable deaths by providing an innovative social enterprise transportation solution at the community level that is safe, accessible, affordable and reliable, has come as an answered prayer to the many rural dwellers.
What is MAZA?
MAZA is a Hausa word which means quickly. The initiative basically focuses on establishing a transportation network for urgent health care needs in remote areas of Ghana, while creating income-generating opportunities for drivers, traders and farmers.
With the commencement of operation of motorized passenger tricycles in Chereponi District to serve the health needs of most of the 53,000 population size of the district, MAZA has a vision and prospect to scale up to cover more communities in the next few years, and extend its services to other rural districts in Ghana.
The 13 tricycle ambulances, worth GH¢104,000, will no doubt help bridge the gap between patients urgently in need of healthcare and healthcare providers trying to provide life-saving care to patients in time.
The vehicles are multi-purpose by design to meet the immense transportation needs of the rural communities and ensure reliability of the health transportation service through mobile technology and a roster system for drivers.
* A pictorial steps of how the Ambulance will operate
According to Dr. Nana A. Y. Twum-Danso, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MAZA the introduction of the tricycle ambulances, to transport patients in remote rural communities would make it possible for people to access health care at the health posts in the district on time.
She explained that the operation of the ambulances which would be based at the community level would complement the work of the National Ambulance Service (NAS) by positioning its vehicles in the communities.
Dr. Twum-Danso, bemoaned the burden sick people trying to access health facilities in remote areas faced, in covering long distances, using impassable roads, few motorised vehicles, unreliable transportation services and lack of money to pay for appropriate transportation. These challenges sometimes cause avoidable complications and deaths, if patients in these areas received timely means of transport to the health facilities.
Hajia Mary Nakobu, Chereponi District Chief Executive, said most of the maternal and infant mortalities in the district occurred as a result of lack of transportation to get the expectant mothers and infants to the health centres.
She expressed the hope that the MAZA ambulances would help improve the health needs of the people in the district, particularly those living in communities far from the district capital.
The Chereponi District Health Director, Dr Stephen Dadia, commended MAZA for the initiative and expressed optimism that would contribute greatly to reducing infant and maternal deaths in the district.
Dr. Anita Appiah, who represented the National Catholic Health Service also commended efforts of MAZA to reduce avoidable deaths (including maternal and infants death) and bring healthcare to the door steps of the people.
To achieve its vision, Maza continues to partner with the Ghana Health Service, Chereponi District Health Administration and the District Assembly, National Ambulance Service and National Catholic Health Service, as well as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Others include development partners, local chiefs, opinion leaders, and other community members.
By Kwesi Yirenkyi Boateng