Kenyan doctor Jemimah Kariuki awarded for lockdown birth ambulances

Kenyan doctor Jemimah Kariuki awarded for lockdown birth ambulances

Her ambulance service has helped safely deliver hundreds of lockdown and Dr. Jemimah Kariuki has been honoured by the World Health Organisation. The announcement on Wednesday of the Director-General’s Award for Global Health came as a bit of a shock. “So someone calls me on the line, and they’re like ‘Congratulations!’ and I’m like ‘Huh? For what?’ and then they tell me about how I’m trending and I’ve got an award. I was so overjoyed,” she said. When Kenya imposed curfews last year, Dr. Kariuki – an obstetrician/gynecologist at the Kenyatta National Hospital – started seeing more deaths and complications for pregnant women. Mothers often feared infection if they went to hospital and some drivers refused to take them if police were enforcing movement restrictions. Kenya, like many African countries, has no public ambulance service. So Dr. Kariuki enlisted the help of other doctors and paramedics to start Wheels for Life, a free ambulance service for mothers in labour at night. “When I would go to the ward, I would see mothers who had delivered [babies] at home, lost their children or come with extensive tears and I needed to do something,” Dr. Kariuki said. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Dr. Kariuki had improved and saved lives. Patients call 1196 to speak to a worker at Wheels for Life call centre. If it’s not an emergency, a taxi with an overnight movement pass is dispatched. If it is an emergency, the call goes to rescue.co, an Uber-style subscription based service for ambulances. Wheels for Life is free and funded through public partners and corporate donors.

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