Free ride for Nairobi's expectant mothers during curfew

Pumwani Maternity Hospital, Nairobi - Pregnant women in the capital city will benefit from free rides to hospital during the 7pm to 5am curfew.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The Wheels for Life initiative will help women with pregnancy related emergency during the 7pm to 5am curfew access free transport to hospital by calling toll free hotline 1196.
  • It is supported by Ministry of Health, Nairobi Metropolitan Services, Kenya Health Federation, Amref Health Africa, University of Nairobi and Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa).
  • Wt will run in Nairobi County only for now.

Expectant mothers within Nairobi County will now receive a free ride to hospitals  during curfew hours to access proper medical care.

Through the Wheels for Life initiative by a conglomerate of public and private partners, the women with pregnancy related emergency during the 7pm to 5am curfew can access free transport or consult a doctor by calling toll free hotline 1196.

The initiative launched on Tuesday converges medical professionals with providers of transport and digital call services in mission to safeguard the lives of expectant women and new-borns.

It is supported by Ministry of Health, Nairobi Metropolitan Services, Kenya Health Federation, Amref Health Africa, University of Nairobi and Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa).

Seeking partners

Bolt (a taxi services provider) TeleSky (a digital call centre firm) and, which is in emergency and rescue operations are all part of the partnership covering logistics.

The gentlemen who received the call to the hotline on Wednesday morning said "the initiative was just launched and we are running it in Nairobi County only, to see how successful it will be then we will reach out to other counties."

Ms Carole Karuga, Kepsa Chief Executive Officer told Wednesday, they are seeking more partners to roll out to other parts of the country.

She indicated that a number of potential partners have expressed interest since yesterday.

The curfew has evidently disrupted women's access to health facilities for safe deliveries. Some women and new-borns have, consequently, died due to childbirth complications.

On April 22 our sister publication, Business Daily published a story of a Makueni man mourning his wife and new-born baby. His wife went into labour at 11pm but they wouldn't go to hospital until after 5am. Unfortunately, his wife had bled too much by then. She died due to excessive bleeding and the blood choked the baby to death.

Similarly, on April 14, the Healthy Nation drew a picture of the painful experiences of not just the expectant mothers and their families, but also the health providers.

A midwife at Mama Lucy Hospital in Nairobi is reported to have broken down when she talked about two women she was monitoring.

Case of Ebola

The women from Mathare slums had difficult pregnancies that resulted in the death of the babies when their mothers could not get to the hospital and instead delivered at home.

The current maternal mortality ratio is 362 per 100,000 compared to the 2008 ratio of 488 per 100,000 live births, according 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey.

As at 2014, under five mortality stood at 52 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to 115 deaths in 2003.

Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone between 2013 and 2016 had a huge impact on maternal and neonatal health.

Decrease in antenatal care and use of family planning resulted to 3,600 additional maternal, neonatal and stillbirth deaths in the year 2014-15, the researchers indicate in their paper published in National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

Ms Jules Mwabe, Gender advisor at Presidential Policy and Strategy Unit, said the initiative offers a crucial solution to pregnant women unable to access medical help during the curfew.

"With the ongoing curfew in Kenya due to Covid-19, pregnant women are reporting being afraid of going to hospital at night, putting them at high risk of child birth complications and even death. Wheels for Life is offering a crucial solution,” she tweeted yesterday (April 28).