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Recognizing the unsung heroes who make emergency referrals and transport possible

In Tanzania, USAID is part of the innovative m-mama partnership, led by the Government of Tanzania, which brings together the expertise of Vodafone, Touch Foundation, and Pathfinder, to ensure expectant mothers and their newborns experiencing complications are referred and transported to the correct health facility as quickly as possible.

In the rural island of Tumbatu, this is not easy, but for new mom Miza Juma Juma, it made all of the difference.


Dispatchers at the m-mama Unguja Dispatch Center, in Zanzibar, receive a phone call from a facility with a mother in labor. An app will help determine if the patient is an emergency, in which case, m-mama transport will be arranged and dispatched to move the patient to a higher level facility. The dispatchers are all trained nurses, supported by the Government of Zanzibar, so they can use their experience to mentor and counsel facility staff with less experience. / Amy Cotter Fowler for USAID


When Miza went into labor at home, she knew something wasn’t right. She walked 15 minutes to reach the Tumbatu Primary Health Care Unit. But because it was night time, there was only one nurse on duty. The facility does not have an ultrasound machine, so the nurse monitored Miza briefly, and then decided to call m-mama (*115).


Fatma (pictured in first image and left in second image), the dispatch supervisor at the m-mama Unguja Dispatch Center, in Zanzibar, receives a phone call about a mother in labor with a potential emergency. After confirming the call is an emergency, Fatma will arrange and dispatch m-mama transport to move the patient to a higher level facility. / Amy Cotter Fowler for USAID


When a call is made to the m-mama toll-free number *115 in Tanzania, it immediately connects to a nurse like Fatma at the dispatch center in Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar’s main island. Fatma is a trained government nurse who can no longer work at the hospital due to injury, but has become an m-mama dispatcher.


She receives calls from the hotline, uses the m-mama app to triage the calls and if there are complications she identifies the appropriate facility who can manage the complication and she organizes transport for the women to get to the facility.


In honor of World Health Day, gain insight into the diverse array of individuals who play vital roles in connecting pregnant women to care — from the dedicated nurse dispatchers to the community drivers, including boat drivers.









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