Guinea: Saved by the motorbike ambulance

Conakry, Guinea, 12 October 2009

  • Mama Guilavogui is the person in charge of pre-natal consultations at the Kondiadou health center, in Guinea.

She is now sitting behind a desk in her office, wearing a white blouse and listening to what her latest patient has to say.

Outside her office, 10 women are sitting calmly waiting for their turn. Among them is Mama Tonon, a 30-year-old farmer who went through difficult times during her last pregnancy.

Mama Tonon thinks carefully about what happened to her. She explains how pain increasingly took over her sanity as contractions started at home.

As recommended by her midwife, she urgently tried to find her way to the nearest hospital, situated 42 kilometers from her village. All the unsuccessful attempts to find transportation led to despair.

A motorbike ambulance for delivering women

Informed about the serious situation, the person responsible for the local MURIGA (a centre supported by UNICEF that helps people in remote villages) sent a motorbike ambulance to take Mama to Kissidougou Hospital, where she could seek proper care at maternity ward.

However, the way to the hospital was too long and shabby. Her contractions became more painful as the journey took longer, a total of two and a half hours before arrival.

Unfortunately, due to all the hardship and lack of appropriate conditions, Mama's baby didn't survive.

"I am a survivor," says Mama, with a deep and resented voice.

"If the motorbike ambulance did not exist, I would waste more time to find a taxi or a bicycle to give me a ride and there would certainly be two victims instead of one," she adds.

Priority issue

Maternal mortality is a serious problem in Guinea. Estimates show that 4,000 women die every year while giving birth, an average of 11 deaths per day. The reasons are linked to three main factors: socio-economical, institutional and geographical.

In face of such unacceptable figures - and in order to tackle the situation - the NGO "Humanitarian Agency for development," supported by UNICEF, has worked with communities in Guinea to push the implementation of specific policies to better capitalize the solidarity that exists in African societies.

Thanks to annual contributions, family members living in remote villages benefit from local health care and other.

By Michele Akan Badarou