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How mobile tech and an ‘Emergency Taxi’ are saving lives in Tanzania

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A 28 year old Consolata in rural Sengerema, Tanzania was in labor, and was experiencing pain, as she stated “I was in bad shape,” she said. “I couldn’t do anything because I was tired”.

She knew she had to visit a clinic immediately for her baby and her own health. But the location where she is staying, Consolata’s district has more than 500,000 people where they have only three ambulances, so going to the clinic seemed impossible.

So she dialed a hotline number on her phone for an “ambulance taxi emergency services” where the health dep connected her to taxi drivers who were paid by M-Pesa, the local mobile payment to pick them up and get them to clinics, fast. Consolata stated “I thought my baby and I were going to die”.

With the help of the taxi drivers, Consolata arrived at the nearest clinic, where she gave birth with a healthy baby boy named ‘Kurwa’, but then she was notified after examination that they found the cause of her pain which was caused by her carrying a second baby, so two births, for her second baby, she had to rush to a hospital in Shinyanga, and there was no ambulance available at that time, so again they called another taxi.

The lady stated “I thought my baby and I were going to die,” Consolata said, in a video detailing her story.

With the severe pain and delay to the hospital, Consolata gave birth in the back seat of the taxi, when they arrived at the hospital, she was hemorrhaging, but recovered after a few days.

Because of the time saved with the ambulance taxi service, which has been likened to an “Uber for emergencies,” Consolata and her twins survived. And it’s just one example of the first-of-its-kind program’s impact, now saving the lives of 200 mothers and infants in Tanzania every month.

By the end of 2015 M-Pesa had 24.6 million active customers across 11 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

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