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MOTORCYCLE AMBULANCES SET TO REDUCE MATERNAL AND NEWBORN MORALITY IN THE DOUME HEALTH DISTRICT.


Cross section of members of the local
administration. Photo/UNFPA Cameroon-
Doume 2020

Sixteen (16) motorcycle ambulances, 36 trained motorcycle ambulance drivers and 12 Management Committee Chairpersons  were officially handed over and presented to the community of the Doume Health District on Tuesday, 17th March 2020. The ceremony chaired by the Sub-Divisional Officer of Doume, witnessed the presence of Dr. Martina Baye, National Coordinator of the Maternal, Newborn and Infant Health Multisectoral Program at the Ministry of Public Health, who was accompanied by the Regional Delegate for Public Health for the East Region, the Head of the Doume Health District and the Director of Doume District Hospital. Many other representatives of the local administration attended the ceremony. This endowment for the Doume Health District is expected to cater for an estimated population of 52, 535[1] persons within the implementation of the Maternal, Newborn and Infant Health Support Project (MNIHSP) launched in Cameroon in September 2018 to improve upon Reproductive Health Care services in the 35 health districts with maternal mortality indicators of the greatest concern.

The MNIHSP project aims at reducing maternal, new born and infant mortality in Cameroon. To this end, its implementation was handed over to the technical expertise of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) alongside the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) by the Ministry of Public Health. The 16 motorcycle ambulances in Doume are among the 164 motorcycle ambulances acquired by UNFPA in August 2019 and handed over in the identified intergrated health centers. These motorcycle ambulances are to serve the purpose of referencing as well as evacuating cases in need of emergency obstetric care. Thus, transporting patients, but most especially pregnant women and children younger than 5years of age, from their homes to the closest integrated health centre and from a health centre to the District Hospital in good conditions and after the administration of proper First Aid, if need be.

Dr. Onana Mbarga, Director of the Doume District Hospital, shared his views “ We really needed equipment such as these motorcycle ambulances if not, we would have looked for a way to create them, so to speak. Many pregnant women come to the hospital in very bad shape  and loosing them is a near miss while others cannot be saved at all…We know we will be the most solicited destinations for most of the cases referred henceforth and the hospital will have to double its efforts to receive and care for the emergencies at all times.”

In order to ensure a community-based approach to the management of these motorcycle ambulances, 12 management committees covering the 12 health areas each running a community health centre, were put in place. Kongsoua Jeanne, Chairperson of the Motorcycle Ambulance Management Committee of Doume II, gladly received them “We used to loose a lot of mothers because they didn’t ever know how to get to the hospital. Now, we will encourage them more to go to the hospital because there is a well-equipped means available.”The motorcycle ambulances have been equipped with a stretcher, a bench for those accompanying the pregnant woman, a first aid kit and it will be driven by trained motorcycle ambulance drivers. Mbono Mbono Merlin is one of the 36 trained motorcycle ambulance drivers of the Doume Health District “ Most of us already knew how to drive a motorcycle. I own one. We were trained on the importance of volunteerism, because we will basically be volunteering for the community, on the administration of first aid and on the maintenance of the motorcycle ambulance.” He says.

“I commit myself to follow up on the management of these motorcycle ambulances such that they are properly used by the community.” Were the words from the Sub-divisional Officer of Doume as he thanked partners and representatives of the Ministry of Health for endowing the Doume Health District with these equipment. In his speech, Mr. Jean-Patrick Abena did very well to remind the people and moreover the chairpersons of management committees of the the responsibility  they have as directed by the Minister of Public Health. Dr Baye also appreciated the initiative and said, such an involvement of motorcycle ambulances is likely to empower the community. It however requires a functional coordinating mechanisms at the district, regional and central levels. It ultimately paves the way for UNFPA to develop an emergency obstetrical and newborn care network in Doume, which is essential to accelerate the promise in the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality in Cameroon.  

Doume Health District is expecting 1,839[2] births this  Year. Thanks to these equipments, there is more hope that mother and child would be safe and sound before and after delivery. By running this project on behalf of the government, UNFPA reaffirms its engagement to support the improvement of the health of the mother and the child in Cameroon.

 

 

[1] MINSANTE-Cellule d’Information Sanitaire, Population Cible 2020

[2] Op.cit