ZOMBO. The international service volunteer association (AVSI) with support from united nations children’s fund (UNICEF) has rallied motorcycle riders commonly referred to as boda boda operators in Zombo district to support maternal and child health programs in a bid to prevent cases of maternal and child deaths in the district.

Under the maternal and child health program, the two selected boda boda riders per parish are to act as ambulances to rush expectant mothers and children in critical conditions to at least 12 health facilities earmarked for the program.

In his opening remarks during an orientation meeting for the selected boda boda riders at Zombo district headquarters on Friday, Mr Alfred Amandu, the district health inspector asked the motorcycle riders to have records and contacts of expectant mothers in their areas for easy coordination.

Amandu also requested the team to start with awareness creation in their areas of operation so as to make their role known to mothers and other stakeholders for effective coordination with the community and health facilities.

“We don’t want you to allow any mother to deliver at home and if this happens we shall hold you accountable,” Amandu warned.

Ms. Suzan Adong, the programs director maternal and child health told the boda boda riders that AVSI is committed to facilitating them to ensure that lives of expectant mothers and their babies are saved through timely transportation to the nearby health facility.

Mr Isaac Lulaba, the Zombo RDCMr Isaac Lulaba, the Zombo RDC while speaking to the boda boda riders on Friday. PHOTO BY BRUNO MANANO

Adong revealed that the boda boda cyclists under the program will be paid for each mother and child they transport to seek medical attention at the designated health facilities.

“AVSI is going to pay for each mother and make sure you sign your vouchers whenever you take a mother to any health facility depending on the distance but the minimum amount will be shs5000,” Adong promised.

She stressed that the major objective of AVSI is to prevent maternal and child deaths by making accessibility to health facilities easier.

“We are going to do our part but make sure you also play your role,” Adong added.

Meanwhile the district traffic officer, Mr Fred Mabonga warned the boda boda cyclists against reckless riding and reminded them on their role of saving lives of expectant mothers.

He called upon the boda boda riders to remain disciplined on the road by following traffic rules and regulations to avoid accident.

Mr. Isaac Lulaba, the Zombo resident district commissioner (RDC) urged the boda boda cyclists not to look at the initiative as a business opportunity but rather a commitment with great contribution to the country.

“I don’t want you to look at this offer as a business but your contribution to the community you are serving,” Lulaba advised.

He also asked the boda boda riders to regularly maintain their motorcycles to ensure that they are always in good working condition to effectively respond to cases of emergency.

The boda boda operators were also equipped with basic first aid knowledge to help mothers who may deliver before reaching the health facility.

Reports from Zombo district health department indicate that about 48 percent of expectant mothers deliver from government health facilities while the rest give birth in the hands of traditional birth attendants.

In the financial year 2017/2018, 10 mothers in Zombo district died due to inability to access health centers.